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Customer Review

303 of 308 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most engrossing book I have read in 5 years, March 6, 2001
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Hardcover)
Let me say a few things up front: I have never set foot on a racetrack, I have watched the Kentucky Derby maybe twice on TV and I have little interest in jockeys, horse trainers or horses in general. For those who think this is a book about a racehorse, think again. It is a wonderful, descriptive work about the underdog, about triumph over adversity, about personality in animals and, most importantly, about a rarely discussed slice of America.
With a keen sportswriters eye toward detail as well as broader context, Ms. Hillenbrand has written a vivid description of an amazing animal, the three men around him and an era in American sports and history. Seabiscuit was a fascinating creature, not only for his deceptive power but for his playful, competitive nature. Ms. Hillenbrand helps us understand this horse as a person - a person you instinctively root for. His owner, a self-made success in the automobile industry, displays concern for the horse as if it were a child. Seabiscuit's trainer embodied the western spirit and had an uncanny bond with the horse - he was a real-life horse whisperer. Finally, the harrowing, rough and tumble life of a jockey during the 1930's is painted here with unsympathetic accuracy, as we learn about the trials of Red Pollard. Seabiscuit was the hub of these three lives and their extraordinary accomplishment on the racetrack.
The book builds toward two climaxes - the match race against War Admiral (which Ms. Hillenbrand desribes in such wonderful detail) and the ever elusive Santa Anita Handicap. Although historical, the book has a novel-like suspense that keeps the uninformed reader rapt and engrossed. This book, which describes the regional split between east and west coast race horses, really describes the potential and scrappy nature of the American west. Thank you, Ms. Hillenbrand, for such a terrific read.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 20, 2010 7:27:32 AM PST
B. Terry says:
Hi Raygeo3,
Loved your review of this book! I am a Race Horses is my passion, and I could of not said it better. This is one of the Best Books I have Ever read!

Thanks so much for your insight on this well written amazing story.

Posted on Jul 15, 2013 3:02:20 AM PDT
Daisy1 says:
I loved the way you wove the "thread" of Seabiscuit's enthralling story into the larger tapestry of what America was like in those days. I remember asking my uncle whether he and his little brother had ditched school that day to listen to the race on the radio. He looked away and asked me, "Do you have ANY IDEA what your grandfather would have done to us if he found out we'd done such a thing?" I said, "Yeah, I can guess. BUT DID YOU?" He grinned and said had at a buddy's place where there was a radio and no grownups all day long. They could hardly breathe, the tension was so incredible, and they were thrilled that Seabusicuit won. They were Californians, after all.

Although they went to school when the race was over, Dad found out, and the boys got a licking for skipping school - but they both admitted decades later that it was worth every lick and then some. Those were the days!

Posted on Jan 22, 2015 9:53:09 AM PST
pearleyed says:
Lovely review. Thanks for letting us know that one doesn't need to have a passion for horseracing in order to enjoy this book. I just read Unbroken and loved it so much that I feel that I need another Hillenbrand book!
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