Sunday, January 22, 2017

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

Star Rating : 3 out of 5

Content Rating : MILD

Back Cover :
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.”

My Thoughts :
So, I had high expectations for this book after having read Unbroken a few months ago; and sadly, the book did not live up to them. If you don’t really love horses, this is not the book for you. Even if you do love horses, you might find it a little slow at times. It’s still a good story, maybe just skip the first half of the book. 

I also gave it a MILD rating. There was mention of drinking and a whore house. But, they are both more side notes and no details are given. Also, there is only one use of strong language. 

 What I liked :

  • The Races – The best part of the book is Hillenbrand’s descriptions of the races. They make you feel in the moment, part of the crowd, cheering on Seabiscuit. It’s easy to feel the joy and the disappointments.
  • Tom Smith – I enjoyed the details about Tom and his unorthodox training methods. He enjoyed fooling the press and you will laugh with him as he fools them time and time again.
  • The Racing Underworld – I, also, liked learning of some of the hardships and back room deals in racing. The amount of stress jockeys were willing to endure is incredible.

What I didn’t like :

  • The Pace – It was pretty slow at times and repetitive. Which is kind of expected in a Non-fiction, but the end of the book went much faster and better I thought.
  • Editing – This book could have used some editing for sure. The story of Seabiscuit includes many interesting characters. They could and probably do have their own biographies. Charles Howard, Tom Smith, Red Pollard, and George Wolf had basically their entire life stories included in this book. By the time it got to Red and George, I growing impatient for the book to finally get to Seabiscuit. Honestly, I didn't find most of the extra information to be needed in the Seabiscuit's story.

What Others Are Saying :
Gifted sportswriter Hillenbrand unearths the rarefied world of thoroughbred horse racing in this captivating account of one of the sport's legends.” --Publishers Weekly

Hillenbrand has crafted a delightful book. Wire to wire, Seabiscuit is a winner. Highly recommended.”--Amazon Review, Sunny Delaney

Reviewed by Shayna Hinshaw

Pick up your copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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