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Seabiscuit: An American Legend (edition 2002)
by Laura Hillenbrand
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
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As mentioned in many of the status updates for this book, I had seen the Jeff Bridges film several times so it made sense to read it. To say this is an inspiring story doesn't do it justice. Given the time frame of the story, the risk involved for Charles Howard to dip his toe into horse racing was monumental. But he was no ordinary man nor were his choices. A tight-lipped trainer that was too old, a red headed jockey that was too big, and a race horse nobody wanted. Who would have thought this group would achieve countless records while taking in nearly a half million in winnings? But this is the 1930s which in today's dollars would be billions! Remarkable in all ways, you don't have to be a racing fan or horse lover to enjoy this: I'm not. And like most adaptations, creative liberties are taken to modify story to actors or length. See the movie; read the book!
Great story of famous horse that was given up on, but 3 men, owner, trainer and jockey, got together and made him a great racer. He was a Depression era favorite. Movie not bad too.
I never thought or believed I would love a nonfiction novel this much, especially one as a required read. Nonfiction isn't my genre at all, and I tend to steer clear of it whenever possible, but I loved Seabiscuit. Well, as much as you can love a book for school. Seabiscuit snuck up behind me and left me wrought out with emotion at the end.
Somehow Laura Hillenbrand was able to recount the life of Seabiscuit and those around him in such a thrilling and gripping way that made me forget it was even nonfiction at times. I admit that the first 5 or 6 chapters were hard for me to get through. As a horse/animal lover, I was looking forward to reading about the adventures of Seabiscuit but the first few chapters were mostly the backstory of the people. This was the hardest part for me to get through because I was kind of bored and at times felt that parts were a complete info dump, but it was somewhat expected in a nonfiction novel. But after I got through those chapters, I easily sailed through the rest of the book. My favorite parts of the book were easily the horse racing scenes. I have no idea how Laura did it, but the way she described them had my heart racing and my eyes glued to the book in anticipation. Those were the times where I felt as if I was part of the crowd watching the horses race. I absolutely loved it and honestly didn't want to put it down. I also loved well, any part that had Seabiscuit, whether it be training with Smith or simply getting his pictures taken by reporters.
Seabiscuit was an amazing horse-smart and cunning yet stubborn as a mule at times. The characters definitely grew on me as well. I felt sorrow and pain for Pollard and his injuries and sadness reading about Smith in the epilogue. The relationship between Smith, Pollard, Howard, and even Woolf was woven intricately with their paths entwining together, completing Team Seabiscuit. My favorite character is a tie up between Pollard and Smith. I guess I shouldn't call them characters but people. This book makes it easy to forget that what happened on the page occurred in real life. Smith was an excellent horse trainer. In my mind, I dubbed him the Horse Whisperer for his ability to train even the stubbornest and rowdiest horses. He was a quiet person but extremely clever and quick witted. Pollard had tenaciousness in him that was admirable. He and Seabiscuit forged a bond together that displayed the trust between the rider and the horse. As I read this novel the people grew on me. I felt happy for their accomplishments and felt sadness and pain during their losses. The epilogue of Seabiscuit was bittersweet. I loved knowing what happened to the people and horses after their racing days were over, but some endings were filled with sorrow.
Overall, Seabiscuit was a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to animal/horse lovers. Even if you aren't a fan of nonfiction, Seabiscuit is definitely a book you should give a try if you ever find yourself in the mood for one. Don't be afraid if you don't know anything about horse racing either. I didn't know anything to begin with either, but Laura does a great job at explaining and describing the races and the jockeys, albeit sometimes I felt like it was too much information to take in at once. This is probably my favorite nonfiction book I've read.
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Wikipedia in English (3)
Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Author Laura Hillenbrand brilliantly re-creates a universal underdog story, one that proves life is a horse race.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)798.400929The arts Recreational and performing arts Horsemanship and Animal Racing Horse racing
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Hillenbrand masterfully recounts the stories of Seabiscuit's most important races, with an especially dramatic telling of the famous match race with War Admiral. We follow the lives of Seabiscuit, his owner, trainer, and jockey through all their ups and downs. This is truly a tale that if someone wrote it as fiction, no one would believe it.
Laura Hillenbrand completed an extraordinary amount of research in order to provide the rich details of the story. I am thankful that she was able to talk to so many who could provide eyewitness details before they were gone. A truly unforgettable book. ( )