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Seabiscuit
Cover of Seabiscuit
Seabiscuit
An American Legend
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of the runaway phenomenon Unbroken comes a universal underdog story about the horse who came out of nowhere to become a legend.

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.
BONUS: This edition contains a Seabiscuit discussion guide and an excerpt from Unbroken.
Praise for Seabiscuit
"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. . . . [Laura 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
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of the runaway phenomenon Unbroken comes a universal underdog story about the horse who came out of nowhere to become a legend.

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.
BONUS: This edition contains a Seabiscuit discussion guide and an excerpt from Unbroken.
Praise for Seabiscuit
"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. . . . [Laura 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
Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    990
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    5 - 7

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    THE DAY OF THE HORSE IS PASTCharles Howard had the feel of a gigantic onrushing machine: You had to either climb on or leap out of the way. He would sweep into a room, working a cigarette in his fingers, and people would trail him like pilot fish. They couldn't help themselves. Fifty-eight years old in 1935, Howard was a tall, glowing man in a big suit and a very big Buick. But it wasn't his physical bearing that did it. He lived on a California ranch so huge that a man could take a wrong turn on it and be lost forever, but it wasn't his circumstances either. Nor was it that he spoke loud or long; the surprise of the man was his understatement, the quiet and kindly intimacy of his acquaintance. What drew people to him was something intangible, an air about him. There was a certain inevitability to Charles Howard, an urgency radiating from him that made people believe that the world was always going to bend to his wishes.

    On an afternoon in 1903, long before the big cars and the ranch and all
    the money, Howard began his adulthood with only that air of destiny and
    21 cents in his pocket. He sat in the swaying belly of a transcontinental
    train, snaking west from New York. He was twenty-six, handsome, gentle-manly, with a bounding imagination. Back then he had a lot more hair than
    anyone who knew him later would have guessed. Years in the saddles of
    military-school horses had taught him to carry his six-foot-one-inch frame
    straight up.

    He was eastern born and bred, but he had a westerner's restlessness.
    He had tried to satisfy it by enlisting in the cavalry for the Spanish-American War, and though he became a skilled horseman, thanks to bad
    timing and dysentery he never got out of Camp Wheeler in Alabama. After
    his discharge, he got a job in New York as a bicycle mechanic, took up
    competitive bicycle racing, got married, and had two sons. It seems to have been a good life, but the East stifled Howard. His mind never seemed to
    settle down. His ambitions had fixed upon the vast new America on the
    other side of the Rockies. That day in 1903 he couldn't resist the impulse
    anymore. He left everything he'd ever known behind, promised his wife
    Fannie May he'd send for her soon, and got on the train.

    He got off in San Francisco. His two dimes and a penny couldn't carry
    him far, but somehow he begged and borrowed enough money to open a
    little bicycle-repair shop on Van Ness Avenue downtown. He tinkered
    with the bikes and waited for something interesting to come his way.

    It came in the form of a string of distressed-looking men who began appearing at his door. Eccentric souls with too much money in their pockets
    and far too much time on their hands, they had blown thick wads of cash
    on preposterous machines called automobiles. Some of them were feeling
    terribly sorry about it.

    The horseless carriage was just arriving in San Francisco, and its debut
    was turning into one of those colorfully unmitigated disasters that bring
    misery to everyone but historians. Consumers were staying away from the
    "devilish contraptions" in droves. The men who had invested in them
    were the subjects of cautionary tales, derision, and a fair measure of public loathing. In San Francisco in 1903, the horse and buggy was not going the
    way of the horse and buggy.

    For good reason. The automobile, so sleekly efficient on paper, was in
    practice a civic menace, belching out exhaust, kicking up storms of dust,
    becoming hopelessly mired in the most innocuous-looking puddles, tying
    up horse traffic, and raising an earsplitting cacophony that sent buggy
    horses fleeing. Incensed local lawmakers...

About the Author-
  • Laura Hillenbrand has been writing about Thoroughbred racing since 1988 and has been a contributing writer/editor for Equus magazine since 1989. Her work has also appeared in American Heritage, ABC Sports Online, The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred Times, The Backstretch, Turf and Sport Digest and many other publications. Her 1998 American Heritage article on Seabiscuit won the Eclipse Award for Magazine Writing, the highest award for Thoroughbred racing. She is currently serving as a consultant on a Universal Studios movie based on this book. Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Laura lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 1, 2001
    HGifted sportswriter Hillenbrand unearths the rarefied world of thoroughbred horse racing in this captivating account of one of the sport's legends. Though no longer a household name, Seabiscuit enjoyed great celebrity during the 1930s and 1940s, drawing record crowds to his races around the country. Not an overtly impressive physical specimenD"His stubby legs were a study in unsound construction, with huge, squarish, asymmetrical `baseball glove' knees that didn't quite straighten all the way"Dthe horse seemed to transcend his physicality as he won race after race. Hillenbrand, a contributor to Equus magazine, profiles the major players in Seabiscuit's fantastic and improbable career. In simple, elegant prose, she recounts how Charles Howard, a pioneer in automobile sales and Seabiscuit's eventual owner, became involved with horse racing, starting as a hobbyist and growing into a fanatic. She introduces esoteric recluse Tom Smith (Seabiscuit's trainer) and jockey Red Pollard, a down-on-his-luck rider whose specialty was taming unruly horses. In 1936, Howard united Smith, Pollard and "The Biscuit," whose performance had been spottyDand the horse's star career began. Smith, who recognized Seabiscuit's potential, felt an immediate rapport with him and eased him into shape. Once Seabiscuit started breaking records and outrunning lead horses, reporters thronged the Howard barn day and night. Smith's secret workouts became legendary and only heightened Seabiscuit's mystique. Hillenbrand deftly blends the story with explanations of the sport and its culture, including vivid descriptions of the Tijuana horse-racing scene in all its debauchery. She roots her narrative of the horse's breathtaking career and the wild devotion of his fans in its socioeconomic context: Seabiscuit embodied the underdog myth for a nation recovering from dire economic straits. (Mar.) Forecast: Despite the shrinking horse racing audienceDand the publishing adage that books on horse racing don't sellDthis book has the potential to do well, even outside the realm of the racing community, due to a large first printing and forthcoming Universal Studios movie. A stylish cover will attract both baby boomers and young readers, tapping into the sexiness and allure of the "Sport of Kings." Hillenbrand's glamorous photo on the book jacket won't hurt her chances, and Seabiscuit should sell at a galloping pace.

  • The New York Times

    "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."

  • Sports Illustrated "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."
  • The Washington Post "REMARKABLE . . . MEMORABLE . . . JUST AS COMPELLING TODAY AS IT WAS IN 1938."
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An American Legend
Laura Hillenbrand
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