Nov 14, 2008


An American Legend
by Laura Hillenbrand

Although I'm fond of animals- horses among my favorites- I've never been one to follow horse racing. I did love The Black Stallion film as a child, and enjoyed watching Seabiscuit on the big screen back when I lived in San Francisco. I had my doubts about actually reading the book (because seeing the movie first can ruin it for me), but Hillenbrand's direct writing style makes lively subject that could easily be dry and boring (and I've tried and discarded several other books on horse racing). Seabiscuit: An American Legend tells the full story of how a little horse who didn't look like much became famous and inspired thousands of Americans during the 1930's. The book describes Seabiscuit's startling rise to fame: how he was trained, his quirks on the field, strengths and weaknesses, failures, injuries, medical treatments, and eventually his great success. Much more than just a story about a horse, it tells about the people who worked with Seabiscuit, what transpired to bring them together, and how avidly the public responded to him. At times the amount of names and facts could make my attention falter, but the story kept moving- interesting and full of details about the ractrack. I think besides learning about Seabiscuit's personality, I mostly enjoyed this plunge into the heart of the racing world. I also appreciated the afterward, in which the author describes her personal struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, and how the work of this book gave her contact with the world.

Rating: 3/5                      399 pages, 2001


  1. So, I notice this is a past read--why the 3/5? Seems like a fairly positive review. I liked this one when I read it a few years ago but sometimes got bogged down in the details as well. I wouldn't mind re-reading it (someday), though! Your review reminds me of a lot of the reasons I liked it the first time!

  2. Well, because I remember feeling it was a good book, but not great. There was nothing terrible about it, (other than a few parts that made me yawn) but it just didn't wow me- and I never added it to my wishlist (a good indication of my gut response to a book is how compelled I feel to add it to my own library).

    I'm reconsidering, though. I don't do half-points, but if I did (or had a ten-point scale) this one would probably get a 3.5 (7).

  3. I can understand that. I have a hard time giving ratings anyway and have thought about doing away with it! a 3/5 can mean so many different things to me depending on the book. If you do re-read it, I'll be interested in hearing what you think!

  4. I got bogged down and didn't finish. I regret that -- must try again.


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