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Date Posted: 13:03:43 09/19/03 Fri
Author: Syl
Subject: Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Here is the board's first review, submitted by Lady Jane. Thanks, Jane!!

TITLE: Seabiscuit

AUTHOR: Laura Hillenbrand

Genre: Factual

Anyone who loves falling so headlong into a book that they stay up until 2:38 am to finish it will lose themselves in Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit. As a horse lover, I expected to enjoy this romp through the career of one of the greatest horses in history. However, this book not only made me fall in love with the "lazy," food-loving racehorse, it literally left me breathless with its descriptions of tight races, jockey injuries and the absolute courage and guts needed in the racing industry.

Hillenbrand expertly weaves together the story of four central characters: Charles Howard, an automobile tycoon who bought the horse after a cheap claims race; Tom Smith, a trainer whose "nurturing" and understanding of horses declare him a "horse whisperer" of the racing world; Red Pollard, a jockey whose career began as a "bug boy" and continued through two near-fatal accidents; and, of course, Seabiscuit, this unbelievable horse whose heart and speed broke records everywhere.

After introducing each one and exploring their colorful histories, the story begins to pick up speed when they converge into one of the most successful teams thoroughbred racing has ever seen.

Once the book "breaks from the starting gate," the momentum picks up and rarely lets down. Although there are two "climaxes" (one in a match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral and another in the Santa Anita Handicap), the book flows smoothly and maintains a pace that keeps the reader turning page after page. Hillenbrand follows Smith as he begins to "cure" Seabiscuit of bad habits and expertly, albeit rather eccentrically, leads him into top racing form. From the "little" colt's early wins in the West, to his travels to the East Coast and Mexico, the author vividly describes racetracks, jockey rooms, and matches so that the sounds and sights produce a movie for the reader's mind.
The tension then begins to build around a match race of the top two horses, Seasbiscuit and War Admiral; at times, the reader is sure the match will never actually materialize, and when it finally does, the exquisite detail and depth with which the race is described seems to be the perfect ending to a perfect story.

Hillenbrand doesn't end there, though. She expertly follows Seasbiscuit and Pollard into their retirements due to injuries, then slowly but steadily builds the suspense again as both plan "comebacks" onto the racing scene, despite everyone else's belief that neither is physically capable of such a feat. When both Pollard and Seabiscuit set foot onto the track for the final Santa Anita Handicap, the reader's heart has just about stopped beating.

I read chapters through tears, gasped loudly enough to scare my husband in another room, and cheered loudly with fans of Seabiscuit...all within the final 100 pages. A work of non-fiction, Seabiscuit has all the drama, plot complexity and intrigue of a masterful novel. This is one book I will read many times just to capture the details I'm sure I missed as I tore along in my own race to "get to the finish line."

BTW...the version I read, see below for citation, also included an extremely interesting interview with the author. In addition, I now can't wait to purchase the special edition hardcover version that includes over 125 photos. This book also had photos, but so many others were alluded to, that I want to see them all!

Hillenbrand, Laura. Seabiscuit: An American Legend. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
Respectfully (and rather tiredly) submitted by Lady Jane

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Replies:

[> I am so excited about this board! (I'm not sure about the rules yet though--is it like Broch Talk where we only post replies? ) Anyway, thanks for the lovely review, Lady Jane! I have a question for you: this book has been on my TBR for an age, but I have to say that I hated the movie because it was just so cheesy! Is the book better? It usually is! I don't mind a sentimental or classical book, but not when the movie they make out of it is trite. -- Reid, 13:26:51 09/19/03 Fri

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[> [> Reid, yeah, I post the review and you post in the replies any comments you want to make. You can say what you liked/disliked about the book if you've read it - that sort of thing. -- Syl, 17:31:55 09/19/03 Fri

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[> [> Not sure if this is a spoiler, so moving it inside>>>> -- Judie for Lady Jane, 10:51:05 09/20/03 Sat

.
.
The book is definitely not cheesy nor trite! Hilldebrand loves words themselves and doesn't trivialize. There are some rather significant differences between the movie and the book (wait until you read about Howard's son's death). The story has a "happy" ending, but I didn't find it "cheesy" in the least! (NT) -- Lady Jane, 20:36:07 09/19/03 Fri (NoHost/198.92.78.134)


Not sure if that reference to Howards's son's death is a spoiler.

Judie

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[> Oh, I've just started reading this book!!!! I downloaded it onto my handheld PC so I can read it anywhere, anytime, LOL. Will let you know what I think when I've finished. Thanks for the review. -- Keira, 15:40:18 09/19/03 Fri

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[> Seabiscuit -- Ragdollsal, 18:41:49 09/19/03 Fri

I was so pleased to see that this was the first book to be reviewed on this site. I read it about a year ago, enjoyed every page. Like you, I read at a breakneck pace to get to the finish line. I made up my mind to see the movie when it came out...I was not disappointed. Just MHO, but it was one of the best films this year. (Sorry to disagree with you, Reid, but our differences are what makes the world go round (G). I then went back and re-read the book. I was astonished at how much I had missed the first time around in my hurry to get to the end. Enjoyed it even more. Ragdollsal

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[> [> Seabiscuit -- Kristen Manning, 04:35:04 12/23/04 Thu

one of the best books of any genre I have read - and I loved the movie too! I thought that the transition from book to screen was brilliantly done - the director did a great job of transferring long scenes to short moments (when the doors close on the garage full of cars for example) and the build up to the end was great (even if not factual but hey it was a movie!). The book is all the more inspiring when it is realised that the author was suffering from chronic fatigue at the time she wrote it.

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[> Fantastic book and a fantastic review! -- BlckJnpr, 20:12:53 09/19/03 Fri

Loved Seabisquit! It was full of details but the story kept moving right along to a satisfying finish. You know you've stumbled onto a great writer when the characters stay with you long after the book is done. I also enjoyed the movie, but too many details had to be left out. I felt like turning around and asking everyone if they really got the significance of a certain scene. Kept my craziness to myself though! ;)

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[> Possible spoiler - reposted.....>>> -- Judie for Lemora, 10:48:45 09/20/03 Sat

.
.
I don't know if this is really a spoiler or has anything to do with the actual STORY line itself, but I'll post inside just in case. :D

Judie




Great review! However, I disagree as to a happy ending. Red Pollard slid further into alcoholism and more racing injuries, when he should've given up jockeying, and Tom Smith's passing was completely unnoted in the news. Marcella Howard lived on until 1986. Thought it a shame she couldn't have helped them both in their old age. BTW, the ranch in Willits is being restored after years of neglect & several owners. (NT) -- Lemora - loved the book, liked the movie, 22:03:38 09/19/03 Fri
*

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[> [> Judie...Guess I should have said the book had a happy ending for the HORSE! LOL I can't remember...did the book tell all that happened to Pollard, Howard, etc? -- Lady Jane (P.S...glad everyone enjoyed the review and the book!), 20:42:13 09/20/03 Sat

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[> [> [> For the horse - ROFL - too funny. Haven't read the book or seen the movie - but one day. :D -- Judie, 21:09:26 09/21/03 Sun

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[> [> [> urgent and to whom it may concern -- ahmed abacha, 03:56:10 08/19/04 Thu

Compliment of the season,how is everything
hope fine if so thanks to Almighty Allah.
I am ahmed abacha the son of the late dictatorship of
the federal republic of Nigeria. Before his death he
was the head of state of the fedral republic of
nigeria a prominent and wealthy man.He possesses a lot
of wealth both within and outside the country, He has
a oil refinery both in saudi arabia and australia
which now has been seized and is under the custody of
their government. he also possess a domiciliary
account worth billions of dollars in the swiss
bank,According to pascal couhephine the swiss economic
minister said that the account is previously held
under new names and they are very difficult to trace.
In an exclusive chat with him he succintly said to me
that the swiss authorities have so far returned about
six hundred and fifty million dollars which is under
the custody of the new government.due to the mounting
pressure,economic and political instability i and my
family are currently taking asylumn in one of the
asian continent pending the time the tension will calm
down.Recently, i had just been informed by my late
father lawyer that before his death he willed to me
some properties both outside the shore of the countyr
and within and some huge amount of money worth three
hundred and fifty million dollars. but due to the
present political and economic instability in the
country i and my family has decided to entrust an
implore you to help us with this project to transfer
this lot of money to your account without any traces
from any source. we guarantee you a maximum security,
information network and even my security guard will be
at every terminal to safeguard you and also give
update on how to go about with tthe money. Moreso, the
insurance company has also agree to to guarantee you a
life assurance under the company policies to
indemnify you for any loss incured. I and famliy has
aso agree to give you a share of 30% of the money if
the project is properly implemented. I also believe
with you we can be rest assured that this project
willwork out as proposed and planned.
Finally, you can also contact my lawyer thruogh this
e-mail address victorlawus@yahoo.com he shall be in a
better position to give you more information.
I shall be grratefull if you are willing to help us
and we shall not hesistate to reward you accordingly,

Yours Faithfully
Moahmed abacha.

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[> Seabiscuit>>> -- Erica, 13:08:01 09/20/03 Sat

I loved the movie and the book. I've lent it to a friend of mine who knows nothing about horses and doesn't read a lot, but she devoured this book. I took her to see the movie and she loved it as well.
The only thing I found a bit distracting was all the horse switches for Seabiscuit. I know they couldn't have used only one horse to film the movie, but some of the horses looked nothing like the other one. Also, for some reason, they had horses nickering in every scene, no matter what they were doing-it's very unrealistic, but I've noticed that movies which have horses in them, the horses are always whinnying.
Has anyone read Man O'War by Walter Farley? I thought that was a good book, but it has been several years since I read it.

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[> [> Erica...I LOVED Man O'War....and every other book by Walter Farley. I had devoured all the Black Stallion books by the time I was 14. Did you see "The Young Black Stallion" is coming to IMAX theaters at Christmas? It looks like it take place in the Middle East with a girl as the main character. 10 yr. old , horse-crazy niece and I already have a date. :) -- Lady Jane, 20:52:39 09/20/03 Sat

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[> Just noticed Michelle Phipps in the 'In Memoriam' Board: Is she by chance descended from Gladys Phipps, Seabiscuit's owner who sold him to Charles Howard? Anyone know? -- Lemora, 22:58:01 09/20/03 Sat

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[> [> Syl might know Lemora, she knew Michelle quite well I believe. Phipps is quite a common name though, so it would be hell of a coincidence if she was. -- Gwen, 02:05:24 09/21/03 Sun

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[> [> [> I have no idea. Mike tells me the late Michele Phipps was adopted, and I think she originally came from Oklahoma, if that's a clue. Other than that, we don't know. -- Syl, 11:14:35 09/21/03 Sun

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[> [> [> [> Michele was adopted in Fort Worth. -- Amanda, 14:09:01 02/01/06 Wed

Just visiting again and saw this message. Michele was born in Fort Worth, TX, and adopted there. Her parents divorced when she was young and her father moved to Oklahoma. She didn't move there until after highschool.

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[> I read a good review on this book in our newspaper, and as it is my turn to buy the books for our book club, this is on my list of must haves - apart from being a horse nut too!! I will let you know how it goes! -- AmandaW, 14:53:27 09/21/03 Sun

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[> I just saw Phar Lap last night. There was another great horse. Was he racing at the same time as Seabiscuit? The movie also mentioned the stock market crash, but didn't say anything about Seabiscuit and I don't think the book mentioned Phar Lap. Just wondering. -- Erica, 11:47:47 09/22/03 Mon

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[> [> Phar Lap raced just a few years before Seabiscuit. PL died in 1932, and Seabiscuit began racing circuit w/ Smith in '36. Hope that helps! :) (Funny...Phar Lap was also called "Horse of the Century"...and other very similar adjectives used to describe Seabiscuit.) -- Lady Jane, 22:23:47 09/22/03 Mon

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[> [> [> phar lap -- John, 00:42:58 08/11/04 Wed

When And Were Did Phar lap Die Message ASAP

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[> [> [> [> Phar lap -- John, 00:44:39 08/11/04 Wed

When did Pharlap die And How did he die

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[> [> [> [> Phar lap -- John, 00:48:34 08/11/04 Wed

When did Pharlap die And How did he die

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[> [> [> [> [> Phar Lap -- Kristen Manning, 04:37:57 12/23/04 Thu

the cause of Phar Lap's death was never proven - it was often suggested that he was poisoned but colic was the more likely cause, it can destroy a big beautiful horse in minutes. Phar Lap was the best racehorse ever to compete in Australia and he is a national hero - so much so that his mounted hide is the Melbourne Museum's most visited exhibit. The movie missed out on the facts a bit but it was moving and it had the best soundtrack of all time!

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[> [> [> [> how did phar lap die? -- jayde, 14:13:41 11/01/05 Tue

could you please send me some info on how phar lap died because i am doing a project on phar lap spm please send me some info

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[> [> [> [> when and where did phar lap die -- steph, 01:31:03 11/14/05 Mon

well phar lap died in america on april the 5th, 1932.

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[> [> [> How did Seabiscuit Die? -- Samantha Houston, 16:50:32 09/18/05 Sun

I'm doing a report on Seabiscuit and I need to know how he died does anyone know when he did die?

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[> [> [> [> Question -- sarah, 00:45:59 05/27/06 Sat

how did sea biscuit die?

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