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on January 10, 2018
I have read and reread Seabiscuit at least 3 or 4 times. To me, it's a classic! The author develops the characters thoroughly, including Seabiscuit. The owner, trainer, and jockey were incredible people. They were all very sensitive to each other's knowledge and expertise when it came to Seabiscuit. There were numerous times throughout the book when the author was describing a race...I found may heart pounding as if I was actually watching a real horse race. Seabiscuit was an amazing animal. He was intelligent, sensitive, and cunning. Even though he was not the most beautiful horse, he loved competition. He truly is "an American legend." Please read this's a feel good story, and will bring a tear to your eye.
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on December 11, 2013
This is history not fiction, but it is comprised of dozens of fascinating stories about the lives of those who brought us Seabisquit, perhaps the greatest racehorse of all time and surely the most improbable of all the great winners. The characters are real to a fault, the prose journalistic at times and elegant and poetic at others. Above all, this is a masterpiece of research. It took only four years to write, but it's depth of detail and accuracy would have justified a lifetime of effort to complete. Brava and brava again to Laura Hillenbrand!!!
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on March 1, 2014
After viewing my DVD film copy many times and enjoying it immensely, I decided to go to the actual source material.

As an avid reader who usually polishes off a book every two - three days, I was so pleased to find a book of several hundred pages when it arrived. What a joy! I loved the story which was the basis for the film. It is written beautifully and tells a truly moving story of a horse and the men involved in its amazing success. You really care about all the people involved and will find it almost impossible to put this book down. PLAN ON STAYING UP TO FINISH IT IN A SINGLE READING!! IT IS THAT GOOD!!
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on October 28, 2001
Laura Hillenbrand is a wordsmith of the top rank. She has written a great book about a horse who has largely been forgotten except by veteran racing fans: Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit, a descendent of the legendary Man O' War, had a rather modest racing career at the beginning having started from the claiming ranks. Thanks to a great trainer, he galloped his way up to the stakes level after having literally dozens of races under his girth. Seabiscuit was not the only colorful character in this claimer-to-champion saga. His trainer Tom Smith was a controversial character who loathed publicity and yet at the same time encouraged it. For example, Hillenbrand's stories of Smith's attempts to thwart the media and racing timers from reporting Seabiscuit's workouts (because Smith feared the weights assigned by the track would be so great as to hamper the horse's considerable ability) are hilarious. Seabiscuit's regular jockey, Red Pollard, was a man who loved to quote Shakespeare but also had to cover up a disability that may have contributed to one of Seabiscuit's most famous losses: Pollard was blind in one eye. Like most jockeys he battled a weight problem. (In one chapter, Hillenbrand writes brilliantly and humorously of the struggle of jockeys like Pollard to make the unnaturally low weights required of racing.) Finally, Seabiscuit's millionaire owner, Charles Howard, was perhaps the least colorful of the horse's connections, but he lost faith in neither Smith nor Pollard. He was the glue who held this unlikely hodgepodge together.
Hillenbrand slowly but very entertainingly works the Seabiscuit story to the legendary 1938 match race with yet another descendent of Man O' War, 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral. She doesn't ignore the Admiral's connections either. Sam Riddle comes to life, as do the horse's infamous temper tantrums on the racetrack. There are constant difficulties in getting the two great horses together on the same track on the same day, including jockey Pollard's injuries (vividly described by Hillenbrand), Seabiscuit's injuries, and other delays. When the horses finally do get together (with the underdog Seabiscuit clobbering the Admiral), Hillenbrand writes with such vividness that you feel you are right there at the track witnessing the race. (She was fortunate enough to have obtained rare footage of this race and several other Seabiscuit races.)
After the climax of this famous race, Hillenbrand continues the Seabiscuit saga to the deaths of the principals. On the last page she writes of Howard having buried Seabiscuit to a secret site at his ranch where he had an oak sapling planted where the great horse was buried. She writes: "He told only his sons the location of the grave and let the oak stand as the only marker. Somewhere in the high country that was once Ridgewood, the tree lives on, watching over the bones of Howard's beloved Seabiscuit."
What a great writer. What a read.
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on March 27, 2017
Well written narrative of the horse Seabiscuit. The writer never misses a beat in covering every aspect of horsemanship and horse racing. The writer also gives the reader a great perspective on all the great historical events that factor in to the complete story of Seabiscuit.
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on January 31, 2016
What is it about Laura Hillenbrand? Her storytelling has lyric and substance and it truly finds its way into the heart of why humanity needs story. This lovely story has a voice you can hear, and draws you into an age and place and allows you to stay there under the spell. In this age riddled with discount of time and immediate entertainment, its so rare to find a writer and book that can hold us. This does. Its a gift of unlikely heroes arriving just when they're most needed, of redemption and the power in believing in the unlikely. Tom Waits once described his music as jewelry for the mind... if that's so, this may be among the loveliest and most enduring of crown jewels.
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on December 20, 2017
An amazing piece of reported research where Hillenbrand's love for horses blossoms on the page. A great view of horseracing and the known and unknown people behind the scenes.
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I picked up this book after thoroughly enjoying the film and wanting to learn more, and I'm really glad I did. As fun as the film was, the book is even better. I loved learning about the social history of the 1930s and 40s and an account of horseracing in that era. The things jockeys did to stay underweight! With four years of research backing her up, the writing is vivid -- filled with lively anecdotes and quotes. Hillenbrand is a terrific author, and the races come alive as she writes. This is a fast and fascinating read about a scruffy horse and the three men who joined with him to create an inspirational racing team. It is well-written and exciting, contains pictures, notes, an index, Seabiscuit's official career racing chart, an interview with the author and discussion group questions.
Highly recommended.
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on January 1, 2018
Interesting insights into horse racing in that era. Kind of sad that this was fact based rather than fiction, because life was so bad for the horses and the riders
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon April 19, 2001
If books were given Academy awards (and if authors had the same celebrity status as actors) this one would be a winner hands down. As someone who reads every horse book I can, I can say that this one is a stand-out and could be enjoyed by nearly anyone, horse lover or not. It is filled with the kind of details that make a book come alive, - vivid portraits of horse owners, riders and those in the racing world, an intimate look at racing, vivid descriptions that make you feel as though you were actually in the saddle, little-known (and fascinating) facts. I thought I knew everything about Seabiscuit already, from having read about this horse from the time I was a child but this author proved me wrong. I'd recommend this book to anyone. If you find it easy to put down, I'll eat my riding helmet!
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