am 29. Juni 2004
I got the book last Christmas and, although I had a hard time finding free time on my schedule, I felt that I REALLY had to read it, the sooner the better.
Making a long story short, this novel is amazing! Believe me when I say that especially background information make Seabiscuit an outstanding book. After seeing the movie, I must say that the book wasn't quite the same, it was more! If the book tells the full story, than the movie is nothing but a trailer (a nicely made one, though...).
Be warned, though, that you won't find lots of humor here. It's written in a rather describtive way!
am 12. August 2006
Ein klasse Buch, das die packende und rührende wahre Geschichte des legendären amerikanischen Rennpferdes und der drei eigenartigen Figuren, die sein Leben verändern sollten, erzählt. Es bietet einen riesigen Hintergrund zum Kinofilm und stellt diesen fast schon in den Schatten. Selbst für Leser, die nichts mit Pferden zu tun haben höchst empfehlenswert. Ein Buch das man nich mehr aus der Hand legen möchte; spannend, tragisch und heiter - alles in diesem Buch zu finden.
Although I am a huge horse racing fan, I ignored this book for a long time, but I realised that it must be good when somebody with no interest in the sport told me what a fantastic book it is. And so it proved.
Seabiscuit, a temperamental horse, began his career with the top trainer of the day. Despite sensing that Seabiscuit had talent, that trainer was unable to get him to do much and his owner sold him cheaply. His new owner moved him to a small stable where the trainer was able to get to know the horse intimately.
The new owner, trainer and jockey are all interesting characters and the book goes into a fair amount of detail about them. The owner was an extrovert type who originally made his money selling automobiles in San Francisco in the years following the 1906 earthquake. By contrast, the trainer was an introvert who had worked with horses all his life but had little experience of horse racing. The jockey had been very successful but it was thought his best days were behind him, as dieting and heavy drinking took their toll, and continued to do so. Another jockey often had to substitute for him.
Under the new regime, Seabiscuit enjoyed himself and eventually emerged as California's champion. However, in those days the best American racing was on the east coast and their champion was War Admiral. The public demanded a match but a combination of injuries to Seabiscuit, personality clashes and bad weather (Seabiscuit did not like running in rain-softened ground) meant that the match did not happen for a long time. It was certainly worth waiting for when it did.
The book continues to the end of Seabiscuit's racing career, when he finally wins the race his owner wanted him to win, and also includes an epilogue telling us what happened to the main characters afterwards.
This is a fascinating story about overcoming adversity. Horse racing is full of such stories - some of you may remember the story of Bob Champion and Aldaniti, which was made into a film - but Laura's writing style certainly makes the most of this story. While it gives an insight into the world of horse racing as it existed back then, it does not give any more detail than it needs to. All these factors explain why this book appeals to both horse racing fans and also to so many people who have no interest in the sport.
If you only read one book about sports this year, make it Seabiscuit. This book deserves many more than five stars for its superb portrayal of the underdog horse whose career captured the nation's heart during the depths of the Depression. In fact, the less you know about thoroughbred racing in the 1930s the more you will probably like this book.
Similar to its subject, the underdog Seabiscuit, the book, Seabiscuit, constantly surprises in many multi-dimensional ways. The best books about sports transcend sports and teach us about life. Seabiscuit is a fine example of that success.
Ms. Hillenbrand is a brilliant story teller, a fine writer, and has an eye for detail that brings you into the scenes she describes. You will feel yourself on Seabiscuit's back, looking for an opening to the rail, as you read the accounts of his most famous races.
If you do not know about Seabiscuit, this horse was an unlikely candidate for racing greatness. He was built all wrong, had a weird personality, and required unusual handling that few would provide. His career was heading nowhere when he was bought by the wealthy Charles Howard, a legendary automobile dealer in the western United Sates, on the advice of his obscure trainer, Tom Smith.
Finding ways to encourage Seabiscuit provides all of the intellectual excitement of a puzzle. Part of solving the puzzle required finding a very special jockey, one whose intelligence allowed him to be flexible. No one could have seemed less likely to play the role of top jockey based on his career track record than Red Pollard, who became the most effective jockey on Seabiscuit.
The triumverate combined to take advantage of Seabiscuit's "blistering speed, tactical versatility, and indomitable will." All of that training and work led up to a monumental match race against Triple Crown winner War Admiral in 1938. During that year, more inches of newspaper space in the United States were devoted to Seabiscuit than to FDR or Hitler.
The book has so many dimensions that they cannot all be addressed in this brief space. There is a lot of history. The biographies of the three main human characters tell you a lot about the development of the automobile, horse training, and the careers of jockeys. The colorful side stories are priceless, especially the ones in Tijuana around the old track there (where western racing migrated after betting was made illegal in California). The tales about the manure pile there are hilarious.
Each of the three main characters could have been the subject of his own very interesting biography, and much interesting detail is included here.
There is a lot of humor. You will especially like the cat-and-mouse games that Tom Smith played with the media so that they could not find out how fast Seabiscuit was running in his workouts.
The stories also involve a lot of diplomacy. The background leading up to the match race with War Admiral will remind you of the peace negotiations to end the Vietnam War.
Finally, there is much tragedy. Horseracing is dangerous (especially for the jockeys), and many paid the price is a variety of ways.
I cannot remember a sports book that captures so many dimensions of fine book writing and story telling. I was reminded of Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway as I read this book, but I think that Seabiscuit is the better book.
After you finish enjoying the book, look around you. Where is there hidden potential waiting to be tapped? Do you have a Seabiscuit-like opportunity you can develop? Probably.
Be flexible in looking for great potential!
am 12. August 2009
I really liked this book a lot. I don't know anything about this sport nor saw a race in my life. But I wanted to read it b/c it was encouraging to hear a story about when you are down and everything speaks against you, to FIGHT and never give up. I didn't have much trouble imagining certain things though lack of my knowledge in this area, but it can be for some, I just felt so captured by the race itself. And the author really makes it alive.
There were few pages that were R-rated, and not important at all to the story, to describe the culture when the event took place and the kind of people it was associate with, (whatever). so if you care about it, just skip it (I ripped those pages out :))
am 21. November 2011
Ein tolles, informatives Buch, das die Hintergründe zum Film interessant und anschaulich erzählt. So kann man sich nicht nur ein Bild vom Leben des Pferdes machen, sondern erfährt auch, in welcher Zeit sein Besitzer und die Menschen, die mit Seabiscuit zu tun hatten, lebten.
Sehr empfehlenswert für alle Pferdefreunde, die sich auch für Zeitgeschichte interessieren.