September 23, 2012
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Horse movies, horse stories, I'm bound to be caught up by either. And I actually watched the associated movie while reading this book. And enjoyed both of course. After all, Seabiscuit is such a heartwarming story about courage and never giving up, it kind of embodies the American spirit.
Hillenbrand takes the story of Seabiscuit and turns it into a history tale that you'll be glad to enjoy. Seabiscuit of course is the little racehorse that noone thought would amount to anything, until he was turned around by three very unique men. Those men being Charles Howard, the owner, who took a handful of change and made himself into a millionaire. Tom Smith, a cowpoke turned horse trainer who didn't say much, but knew his way around horses. And Red Polland, the jockey who would connect with Seabiscuit on such a level that he couldn't help but win races. There were other supporting people of course, like Howard's wife and the other jockey George Woolf and they too played their roles in Seabiscuit's success.
Hillenbrand does a great job of telling us about the people in this book. She found quotes about them and from them and used it to really define how they were in real life. I can totally see them acting the way she says they did and when you read other accounts of Seabiscuit, it lines up. Especially Smith and his quiet manner and it was well known that Howard liked the spotlight and publicity. But then there was Seabiscuit too. We'll never know what that horse may have been thinking while racing, but I think Hillenbrand does a great job of describing his spirit and what could be going on with him. She doesn't assign any thought or speech to him of course, but the way she describes his running seems authentic and well done.
The history was well researched. The appendices and explanations at the back show that much. She spent a lot of time researching for this book and undoubtedly that's why the movie was made off of this one. She also ties all the people's and the horse's history together so that it weaves as one and isn't too jumbled around. It does get to be a little too much information in some parts and drags a bit, but this seems to only happen in the beginning of the book and it moves with a much better pace later on. I also loved the pictures she included of Seabiscuit, the other horses, and even some of the jockeys and other people in Seabiscuit's life. It really added to the book since you could see exactly what everyone looked like, albeit in black and white.
A well researched book about a remarkable animal. Seabiscuit is definitely one of my favored historical figures even if he is a horse.