Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Lauren Hillenbrand
In the early 1900s Charles Howard became a businessman, forcefully ushering in the automobile era in San Francisco after owning a bicycle repair shop. As his wealth grew, he bought a large ranch in northern California and became interested in thoroughbred horse racing. Tom Smith was a horseman being relegated to the fringes of society as cars took the place of horses for transportation throughout the country. When Howard bought a less-than-classic horse named Seabiscuit, with Smith as a consultant/trainer, they found the ideal jockey for Seabiscuit in Red Pollard, an experienced jockey who had never worked for a winning stable. As Seabiscuit trained and raced on west coast race tracks, the established eastern racing establishment scoffed at Seabiscuit’s ability and speed. Through the ups and downs of the horse’s career, Seabiscuit, his jockey, owner and trainer captured the attention and devotion of the American public all the way up to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Americans during the Depression hungered for good news and inspiration, which Seabiscuit and his team supplied.
Even readers who are not fans of horse racing will find much to capture their attention in this book. Through her own health challenges, the author spent 4 (four!) years researching all the figures involved, finding people in their 90s who had seen Seabiscuit race. I found the book completely enthralling and moving. The author has written acknowledgements at the end of the book that explain her writing and research process in detail. The book also includes an interview with the author after the index. Both additions are worth reading.
Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson