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. Three men changed Seabiscuit's fortunes:
Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.
Author Laura Hillenbrand brilliantly re-creates a universal underdog story, one that proves life is a horse race.
©2010 Laura Hillenbrand (P)2010 Random House Audio
“Fascinating...Vivid... A first-rate piece of storytelling, leaving us not only with a vivid portrait of a horse but a fascinating slice of American history as well.”(The New York Times)
“Engrossing...Fast-moving...More than just a horse’s tale, because the humans who owned, trained, and rode Seabiscuit are equally fascinating.... [Hillenbrand] shows an extraordinary talent for describing a horse race so vividly that the reader feels like the rider.” (Sports Illustrated)
“Remarkable...Memorable...Just as compelling today as it was in 1938." (The Washington Post)
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I never got around to reading this book when it first came out, but did see the movie and have watched it several times. Because the movie was so perfectly casted with Jeff Bridges, Toby Maguire and Chris Cooper, those were the faces I saw in my head as I listened to the scenes familiar from the film. The real delight was in discovering the details that further fleshed out those characters and the story in general – Howard’s compassionate and feisty wife, Smith’s sly tricks to evade the press, the brutal life of virtual indentured servitude jockeys endured to make a dangerous and financially unrewarding living.
The book starts somewhat slowly methodically, introducing the three damaged men and the horse, who all needed to come together to mend each others’ lives. These introductions also laid out necessary information for the reader uninitiated in racing lore to understand the context of the lives in question. For that reason, some readers may feel it moves slowly. But with the foundation laid, the stage is well set for the exciting racing scenes that had me rooting for The Biscuit, sometimes with victory and more often than I had realized with defeat. If there was one weakness, because the excitement of any sporting event depends largely on the visual witnessing of the event, hearing a verbal narration just didn’t convey the tension, danger, and exhilaration that raised my adrenalin, especially for the lesser races. The major races (the Match Race, and the 100 Grander) were exceptions – very exciting and well written. Narration was good, had the tone of a documentary which this really was. Not as deeply moving as Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken”, but that ‘s apples and oranges.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Laura Hillenbrand writes the most amazing non-fiction. I found myself glued to my iPod during the races. I didn't want to stop listening. I feel like she is simply one of the most talented writers around. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book in every regard.
Laura Hillenbrand captures the story of Seabiscuit so well that it is difficult to put this book down. It is so moving that you feel as if you are right there during the races and the events occurring in the lives of the persons involved. I highly recommend this book.
I love. I pray. I brew. I code
A great story! I didn't know I'd enjoy reading about horses this much. It did not feel like a historic account, but more like a novel with great characters with, suspense and an amazing story. Thank you Laura Hillenbrand for such a terrific read.
If I rate books on a ten point scale, this one is an easy fifteen, maybe twenty. Just such a well told story! I knew Sebiscuit was a great horse, but the story behind it.... I will re-read it to pick up details, I might have missed. Don't pass this one by, please!
The story of Seabiscuit is the true "can't judge a book by its cover" antedote. Seabiscuit didn't look like a race horse but, a down on his luck trainer, a trusting owner and broke down jockey knew what he was capable of accomplishing. Great narrator!!Would read again. Also wonderful historical events that are chronicled along with the story of Seabiscuit.
This was just a great story. I love the periodical facts that go along with the story. I love this author and the performance keeps the book intact.
I would definitely recommend this book.
Seabiscuit was my favorite. The horse had the qualities I most admire...courage, heart,and tenacity.
The scene that revealed that Seabiscuit was more than horseflesh and the winning spirit had to be nurtured not demanded.
Although the end was no secret, the tale of Seabiscuit was more than a story of an unlikely horse winning a big race. It was the story you never hear about. The sabotage, the ruthlessness, the passion, and the politics in the horse racing world.
This was very enjoyable. This was to me a story of survival, hope and overcoming obstacles and misfortunes. A group effort between a trainer, jockey, owner and horse without each one the success would not have come to pass. The key was how the trainer Tom understood Seabiscuit and how he saw the horses heart and honor. A gift few have even had. Understanding humans can be hard enough. This all created hope and enthralled a nation for numerous races where "The Biscuit" galloped.
If you like rag to riches stories, true stories of life then you will do yourself a favor and read or download Seabiscuit.
Book was good but not as great as the subject matter. Audiobook narrator was average.
This is a biography of a race horse. There are a lot of details and facts: names of races, dates, times, speeds, and info about other horses and people. At times it was like a text book. But that’s ok. I want facts. During specific races it was exciting. I recently read Boys in the Boat about a rowing crew. That book was more exciting and engaging all the way through. Probably because BITB was about humans, and the author could get more into their lives, their thoughts, their emotions. The most intriguing part about Seabiscuit was his cocky arrogance. He wanted to humiliate other horses. Also, he did not look elegant. He had short legs, knobby knees, and a stocky body. Seabiscuit is a great story, a great subject. But I don’t feel the book is great, which is why I’m rounding to 4. But it was very good.
Other characters include the owner Charles Howard, the trainer Tom Smith, and two jockeys Red Pollard and George Woolf. I was amazed and so sad at what I learned about jockeys. The things they did to keep their weight down: eating tape worms and being constantly dehydrated with awful consequences to their health. One guy would put lettuce on a windowsill to dry out excess water before he ate it. Red’s life was a sad story.
The physical book has pictures. I’m disappointed that the author did not include a pdf file of pictures to go with the audiobook. Other authors do.
George Newbern was ok. But at times I felt like he was reading like a TV news anchor instead of acting/narrating. But part of it could be the material – a lot of facts.
Narrative mode: 3rd person.
Genre: biography, sports history.
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