Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Who was the biggest newsmaker in the U.S. in 1938? Roosevelt? Hitler? No, it was a racehorse named Seabiscuit. Laura Hillenbrand wrote "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" to show modern readers why Seabiscuit captured the imagination of Americans during the Great Depression.
Yeah, I know, everybody else read this years ago, or at least saw the movie. For some reason I never read it back when it was being hyped.

I was never a horse-crazy girl and have never been to a horse race in my life. I've never even watched the Kentucky Derby on TV, or drank a mint julep. All I know about horse racing comes from reading Dick Francis mysteries, and those are mostly about English hurdling races, which seems to be a rather different sport.

Despite my previous lack of knowledge, I found "Seabiscuit" fascinating. The book gives you a lot of background about horse racing in the 1930's, Seabiscuit, his owner, his trainer, and his jockeys. However, all the information is presented in a way that reads more like a novel than nonfiction, and from me that is a compliment. Sometimes (okay, often) I get bogged down in nonfiction and never even finish the book. But I stayed up late reading Seabiscuit, just to find out what would happen to everyone. This was a great read.

(By the way, I counted my Dick Francis books last week and discovered I had 27 books. Twenty-seven! Surely I had all of them -- but no, according to http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/, Mr. Francis has written 41 best-selling novels. So I guess I can learn more about horse racing while I wait for Ms. Hillenbrand to write another book.)

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