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The Sport of Queens: The Autobiography of Dick Francis Paperback – September, 1995
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About the Author
Dick Francis has written forty-one international bestsellers and is widely acclaimed as one of the world's finest thriller writers. His awards include the Crime Writer's Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to the crime genre, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tufts University of Boston. In 1996 Dick Francis was made a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master for a lifetime's achievement and in 2000 he recieved a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
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Top Customer Reviews
I need not have worried. In his own inimitable fashion, Mr. Francis wrote a thoroughly engrossing and entertaining book about his life on horseback. Perhaps he could have included a bit more about his personal life, but the lack of such detail doesn't detract from this marvelous read.
In fact, the personal details he did include mostly related to his life on the Turf and it was fascinating to see the genesis of novel plots and details that were taken from his life. Before reading this book, I had undertaken to read every Dick Francis (and Felix Francis) novel in the order in which they were written, a total of 49 books in my possession. Even though I received my copy of Sport of Queens about halfway through my readathon, I decided to finish the novels before reading the new book. Thus having the novel plots "at my fingertips", it was easy to spot even the little flourishes in the novels that were taken from unique aspects of his life, making this book almost a "companion" book to the novels.
If you have not read Sport of Queens, I highly recommend it. Even if you have no interest in horse racing or steeplechasing, it is a fascinating and understandable book that will have you wanting to hop over to England for the Grand National. Dick Francis shows a sheer joy and love of his chosen career; a joy and love that infects the reader with a desire to canter down to the starting tapes and have a go over the birch; to share the love and joy that one man brings to millions around the world.
Dick Francis, however, does have a knack for grabbing one's attention right from page one, and riding the Queen's horse in the Aintree Grand National was enough for me.
I respect and admire Dick Francis as a brilliant writer of mystery fiction. I respect and admire the man behind the words, who must have had nerves of steel and a humble approach to life itself. I respect and admire the close relationships he had with the horses he rode. I just wish I could have found that inner man in his autobiography.
In these pages we see the source of the great passion for racing, the lively intelligence, the workmanlike habits, the wry humor and the basic goodness that infuse all the books of Dick Francis. Although he and his wife Mary did meticulous research for many of his mysteries, his own life and character were the foundation for the freshness and authenticity of his fiction.
The Sport of Queens was first published in 1957, soon after Dick Francis retired from racing. He was at the top of his career - a Champion Jockey who rode the best horses in England and in many races wore the colors of Her Majesty the Queen Mother.
The book covers a lot of ground succinctly: the author's childhood on horseback, his stint in the R.A.F. during World War II flying everything from Spitfires to bombers, his love-at-first-sight, lifetime romance with his wife - and of course his most memorable races, losses as well as wins.
The Sport of Queens is also a treasure trove of information about the daily lives of steeplechase jockeys and the exotic world of racing.
In real life, I never go near a horse if I can help it. But Dick Francis carries me into a fantasy world where I thrill to the speed, power and beauty of a finely bred racehorse. His tremendous skill as a storyteller is amazing, given his equally impressive skill as a jockey.
Few people live two brilliantly successful lives in succession, as Dick Francis did. His ability to chronicle his achievements so modestly is yet another feat.