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The Great Match Race: When North Met South in America's First Sports Spectacle by [Eisenberg, John]
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Length: 280 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Early in Eisenberg's detailed, entertaining chronicle of the May 1823 race between two Thoroughbreds—one from the South, one from the North—he recounts a scene that captures his tale's central tension. In the grandstand of the National Course in Washington, D.C., slave-owning Virginia aristocrat William Ransom Johnson watches with dismay as Southern upstart Henry loses to Northern champion Eclipse. Defeated, Johnson vows to "formulate a plan for revenge.... It was time for the South to take this challenge more seriously." Baltimore Sun sports columnist Eisenberg deftly extends the metaphor of Johnson's quest for recognition to the larger conflict brewing between the industrializing North and the stubbornly agrarian South. He builds the tension relentlessly, and as race day approaches, he describes a nation on the edge of its seat. "Just as sports spectacles in ancient Greece, Rome, and England served as substitutes for real war..., the Union Course race pitted one American region against another, one way of life against another." Eisenberg succeeds in creating a gripping yarn of sporting contest, portrayal of a historical moment and smart analysis of a country headed eventually for civil war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Long before American football had even been invented, the country devoted itself to horse racing with every bit as much passion as is now aroused by the Super Bowl. The biggest events in horse racing were match races between two famous champions, and the biggest match race ever run in the U.S. was the battle between the undefeated northern horse, Eclipse, and the brilliant southerner, Sir Henry, at New York's Union Course in 1823. The match was arranged after Eclipse had injured southern pride by humiliating several of the area's best horses in a series of races. The South enlisted master horseman William Ransom Johnson to select and prepare a new challenger to redeem the region's honor, and the stage was set for the country's first sports spectacle. Sixty thousand people came to watch three heroic heats between the two champions, each at the grueling distance of four miles, and the outcome spurred unparalleled joy on one side and despair on the other. Eisenberg, informed by exhaustive research, tells the stories of the two great horses and their human connections with a novelist's dramatic flair (yes, the comparisons to Seabiscuit are inevitable and appropriate). The great match race, which played out at a time when civil war already loomed on the horizon, served as a precursor in miniature to that more momentous event. It deserves to be remembered both for what it was and what it meant, and Eisenberg has done his part to ensure that it will. Dennis Dodge
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product details

  • File Size: 1298 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (April 5, 2007)
  • Publication Date: April 5, 2007
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003UEQOBC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,866 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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