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Black Maestro: The Epic Life of an American Legend Hardcover – April 25, 2006
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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From Publishers Weekly
New York Times writer Drape (The Race for the Triple Crown) illuminates a little-known figure in the history of American sports: Jimmy Winkfield, the last black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. Like that of more well-known black performers Paul Robeson and Josephine Baker, Winkfield's successwas a mixed blessing: racism and injustice ultimately force Winkfield to flee his native country for Russia, where he witnesses the revolution and lands in Paris with other Russians. The youngest of 17 children in a Kentucky sharecropping family, Winkfield's passion for horses sets in early, and his slight stature bolsters his desire to be a jockey, "where blacks and whites rubbed shoulders without cross words or a stinging backhand to upset the harmony."Black jockeys such as "the legendary slave jockey Simon ... who helped drive General Andrew Jackson from the racing game" and Isaac Murphy, who was so successful, he built himself a $10,000 house before the turn of the 20th century. While Drape's attempts at novel-esque narrative occasionally read cliché, this well-researched biography of Jimmy Winkfield and the larger chapter of America his life highlights is a valuable and entertaining read. 16 page b&w photo insert.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The prospects for a small black man born in the American South in 1882 were grim. That Jimmy Winkfield, the seventeenth child of a sharecropper, grew from such barren ground to become the toast of three continents is nearly incredible. Winkfield's gift was a unique ability to understand and communicate with Thoroughbred racehorses. He parlayed that gift into worldwide success as a jockey, winning consecutive runnings of the Kentucky Derby in 1901 and 1902 before fleeing America's racism for even greater fame in Europe and in Russia. Along the way, he married three times (twice to white women), took two mistresses, fathered five children, made and lost fortunes, and was a firsthand witness to many of the events that shaped the twentieth century. Drape's exhaustive research allows him to tell Winkfield's story in detail and in context. While fully appreciative of Winkfield's accomplishments as a jockey, a horseman, and a man, Drape doesn't gloss over the jockey's many transgressions against those he loved, and that is what makes this biography not just a tribute but a life. Dennis Dodge
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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His story will leave you shaking your head in amazement. I think it's safe to say no American athlete ever led a stranger life, and that includes Babe Ruth. Winkfield was one of the best jockeys in American history, but he had his color going against him at that time. He went to Europe and.....well, the stories are incredible!
As of my review, this hardcover book is on sale here for five bucks. You have to be kidding! What a bargain. This is great reading if you any interest in people, not just horse racing.
This well written and very well researched book shares the life of one of the sport's more colorful participants and gifted partners to equine athletes - Jimmy Winkfield.
The pages kept turning, the story was fascinating, and the author did a lovely job in both pace and content.
If you have any interest in the "sport of kings" and those who make it come to life, this book is an important read. For those who just want to read the story of a gifted athlete whose genetic makeup destroyed his promise on American soil, this will inspire you as to Jimmy's fortitude and once again bewilder you at the mindset that eventually took his craft out of his home country.
put it on your read list.