I was blown away by Hillenbrand's Unbroken--the storytelling, the research, the detail--and after resisting Seabiscuit despite all the raves, I finally gave in and read it, hoping for a similar experience. I'm sorry to say that I didn't love it. I'm still impressed with Hillenbrand, but I wasn't able to overcome my overall disinterest in horse racing. While I loved Seabiscuit's personality, as well as those of the people surrounding him (and wow, the life of a jockey is tough!), it started to feel like just one race after another. Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost, sometimes there were injuries. Hillenbrand did succeed in building the suspense in moments--tense races in particular--but I just had a hard time getting invested in the overall arc of the story of Seabiscuit.
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From the publisher’s description:
Hillenbrand brilliantly re-creates a universal underdog story, one that proves life is a horse race.
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.