Customer Reviews


577 Reviews
5 star:
 (500)
4 star:
 (52)
3 star:
 (12)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I don't know anything about horseracing. I saw the movie, and then this book fell into my hands, and I began it wondering if it would live up to the hype. Of course, it did, and then some. Laura Hillenbrand is a wonderful writer, full of anecdotes and information about the '30s, the depression, and the world of horseracing in those days. The author spends a great deal of...
Published on July 15 2004 by David W. Nicholas

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good yes, but great?
Laura Hillenbrand's "New Yorker" article this year, about her bout with chronic fatigue syndrome, was sheer brilliance -- one of the best pieces I have ever read in that magazine. Half way through the article I learned that she had penned "Seabiscuit," which was then the rage among non-fiction readers (while the movie was doing brisk business in...
Published on Nov. 21 2003 by Barry Fitzsimmons


‹ Previous | 1 2 358 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4.0 out of 5 stars Starts Slow, Finishes Strong, April 1 2004
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
In the first few pages I worried that this was going to be another David Halberstam kind of book - every character a giant, every problem a crisis. Add that to Hillenbrand's celebrated bout with chronic fatigue, and there's every reason to be concerned that it'll be more hype than content.
The book does start out a little too hyperbolically as she sets up the three main (non-equine) characters, but after the rough start she moves into a story that's as gripping as it is quick-paced. Some of the tidbits are fascinatiing: who would have ever guessed that a third of the entire country would have tuned in to hear the radio broadcast of a horse race? Or that a horse would be on the front page of every newspaper? It's a fascinating look at a time when the country was gripped by the spirit and fortitude of a great animal.
Who will like it: most readers of event-based non-fiction; people looking for a fun beach read.
Who won't like it: people who prefer their non-fiction to be straight biography; anyone who finds a predictable ending annoying.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Just The Beginning, March 11 2004
By 
Eric (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
At the young age of 26, Charles Howard travelled to San Francisco. He left his wife and two sons behind while he searched for work. After time he eventually opened a small bicycle shop in the heart of San Francisco. As he began fixing bikes, "automobiles" were just arriving.
In 1905 Charles brought his family to San Francisco. Charles by then had been trying to sell cars, he wasn't successful at all in doing so. After a year or so of selling cars an earthquake devastated San Francisco. The earthquake helped and made Charles a very rich man. His vehicles sold quick as ambulances and vehicles which could cope with the turned up roads.
Charled started with a tiny bicycle shop and now he was one the largest distributors of automobiles. He made so much money he was able to buy his dream ranch of 17,000 acres in Northern California.
After one of his sons died his marriage fell apart. He then got a divorce from his wife. After time passed he met a girl named Marcela and fell in love with her. Marcela grew up with horses for most of her life and wanted to introduce thorughbred racing to Charles.
Charles bought a horse who noone else wanted. Charles bought Seabiscuit for $8,000 from Ogden Mills. After a few words were exchanged, a simple handshake made the deal final. This horse walked and galloped oddly. This horse was only three years old and ran as much as a normal horse would in its whole career. This horses name was Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit was very small compared to most race horses. Most looked at him as if he was a pony.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars an overall good book, March 7 2004
By A Customer
The book, Seabiscuit, is a very well written account about the best racehorse in the world. The author Laura Hillenbrand, does a very good job describing the characters and events included in the story. Most of the book is the events leading up to the big race at the end- the Santa Anita Handicap. It describes how each of the character is changed through the events that take place, and how they all grow in their relationships with each other and with the horse.
In a review written in Florida in August of 2003, the reviewer says that the book is 'excellent, excellent.' Everything the reviewer said was positive. She summed up the book by talking about the main characters and how each of them were so very different but came together to form an amazing team. I agree with everything that she said because they all seemed like total opposites at first and none of them hd any future. Seabiscuit had 'knobby knees and a lazy disposition,' Tom Smith wouldnt ever say a word and lived in the wilderness for a long time, Pollard was having bad luck as a jockey, and Howard was depressed after the loss of his son. Buit they came together and a wonderful story came out of it.
I would recommend this book to anyone, especially people that love horses. It was a little hard to get interested in it at first, but after a few chapters, its hard to put down.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST MUST-READ, Feb. 29 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
As I first approached Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit," my knowledge of horseracing was limited at best. I had been to the local horsetrack a few times, and knew enough to be excited only when the horse I had chosen, usually due to a unique name or an unidentifiable lucky feeling, stuck its nose out in front of the pack and my payout flashed on the infield scoreboard. Though my knowledge of the sport of kings was definitely limited, Hillenbrand's account of the knobby-kneed horse-that-could engrossed me as few other books have.
"Seabiscuit" is, to put it bluntly, an absurdly entertaining novel. I expected to read a dry account of the minutae of horseracing, punctuated by a few entertaining descriptions of races. Instead, I found the account to be written like a novel, offering fascinating characters and an absorbing narrative. I was drawn in by the end of the first chapter, in which we are introduced to the first of the story's players, Charles Howard.
The book is written in an effortless, engaging tone. Hillenbrand's words tapdance on the page. Her love for the sport of horseracing, not merely the attraction of mint julips and longshot payoffs, is contagious. She allows each character to become the real people they were. Her love for the people (and horses) she writes of is obvious, yet she still presents a fair and honest account of Seabiscuit and the people surrounding him. Aside from her stunning characterizations and meticulous, insightful research, her gift for describing the races rivals the best sportswriters in the business.
"Seabiscuit" is the most entertaining book I have read in years. Whether a racing novice or a regular at the track, this is a must-read book. Another Amazon quick-pick, for younger readers, is The Losers Club by Richard Perez
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most impressive books, Feb. 27 2004
By 
Owen Choi (Raleigh, North Carolina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
This is one of the most impressive books I've read recently. What grabbed me most can be summarized by a paragraph in the preface:

"They had come from nowhere. The horse, a smallish, mud-colored animal with forelegs that didn't straighten all the way, spent nearly two seasons floundering in the lowest ranks of racing, misunderstood and mishandled. His jockey, Red Pollard, was a tragic-faced young man who had been abandoned as a boy at a makeshift racetrack cut through a Montana hey field. He came to his partnership with Seabiscuit after years as a part-time prizefighter and failing jockey, lugging his saddle through myriad places, getting punched bloody in cow-town boxing rings, sleeping on stall floors. Seabiscuit's trainer, a mysterious, virtually mute mustang breaker named Tom Smith, was a refuge from the vanishing frontier, bearing with him generations of lost wisdom about the secrets of horses. Seabiscuit's owner, a broad, beaming former cavalryman named Charles Howard, had begun his career as a bicycle mechanic before parlaying 21 cents into an automotive empire."
I think this is a fantastic book because the characters are so interesting and likeable. In my opinion, the author has created a fiction out of a non-fiction (in author's words: to recreate history with the texture of a novel). She is an exceptionally talented writer. ("His eyes were wide and shining with the shock of it"-her description of War Admiral's owner, just after losing the race. One of the ending scenes of the book (after the Santa Anita race): "Red Pollard sipped his scotch and reminisced about Seabiscuit and quietly slipped out of history. The smoke from his cigarette curled up from his fingers and slowly faded away.")
No wonder why this story has grabbed her so much, who has been suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Engrossing, Feb. 22 2004
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
I saw the movie Seabiscuit before I read the book and I left the theatre with the feeling that I'd just seen what in 20 years would be a classic. My heart was beating in time with Seabiscuit's hooves, my brain was full of the scenes that had made it a masterpiece: I was overwhelmed.
Then I read the book.
It was wonderful! I hadn't thought anything could be better than the movie - and yet it was worlds better. Hillenbrand had a rare talent for writing nonfiction as though it were prose and reminding you that in a world of "Reality" TV and fantasy everything, some times real life, without the commercial breaks adn the weekly installments, really does exceed the creations of our imagination. The only book I found that I could compare this to was Sebastien Junger's The Perfect Storm, yet it was even better than Junger's work, which also was adapted to film.
After reading Seabiscuit, I went back and watched the movie again - and couldn't believe that I had been satisfied with it. Another statement this makes: yes, even today, the book is always better than the movie :)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Seabiscuit, Feb. 16 2004
By 
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
An absolutely awesome book. The story told the life of four main characters and the history of racing. The characters were Howard Shore, Tom Smith, Red Pollard and Seabiscuit. It contains lots of details on every page. It was amazing how the author had Red Pollard and Seabiscuit's lives lived so much alike. Each characters story is very nicely described and attention grabbing. However I thought Seabiscuit's life was the most interesting. Seabiscuit was an offspring of a great racing horse, but he was born a small and timid looking horse. Many hopes were put on him to be the next big winner in the racing world. Things turned dark as the owner saw Seabiscuit as a useless animal. Seabiscuit was then separated from his mother and sold for a low price. He began racing but lost every one of them. Seabiscuit was treated poorly and was constantly shifting from one owner to another. It was not until he met up with Red Pollard a young man who leads the same life as he did. Abandoned by his family, and was the worst jockey. Both of them only knew about losing. Both of them were never given a chance in the world. Both of them had a fiery temper and never wanted to give up. It was then after Red Pollard and Seabiscuit were together, they began to win. Wins after wins, Red Pollard and Seabiscuit were on a roll. However this book is all happy, both Red and biscuit face losses and many put downs. I was surprised how a jockey had to watch his weight. At times Red would eat a lot and sometimes barely nothing, they even force themselves to vomit in order to make themselves lighter. In the beginning I didn't take horse racing as a big deal. I always had thought jockeys made easy money. It was until I read Seabiscuit my views were opened up to a whole new meaning. It made me more interested in horse racing and how hard those horses and jockeys work everyday of their lives. This book also talks about the history of racing. Attention grabbing, page-flipper, this is definitely the book to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars LONG LIVE THE GREAT HORSE SEABISCUIT, Feb. 10 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Seabiscuit (Audio CD)
Seabiscuit was a great book. I've never been so caught up on a historical figure. This book didn't tell me just about the horse, it told me everything about that time in the 1930's. I learned about automobiles, how jockeys lose weight, Great Depression, and many other intresting things. I was quite amazed about how such a disfigured horse could be such a perfect horse with the help of such unordinary characters. It really toched me. The three people that helped Seabiscuit are,Charles Howard,Tom Smith, Red Pollard. Charles Howard,who was quite poor and opened an bicycle repair shop, which soon turned to a automobile lot. He made a lot of money with the selling of the automobiles, so he decided he should buy a horse. He bought a few cheap horses who were not very good, but he needed a trainer, he found Tom Smith, an old mustang breaker, who no one really knew that he was such a great trainer. He talked to Seabiscuit, slept next to him every night, he kept Seabiscuit on a special diet, took Seabiscuit at night for special workouts. Seabiscuit only trusted Tom Smith to take care of him.Red Pollard, Seabiscuit's jockey, was skinny and tall for a jockey. He was half-blind in one eye, due to riding one day and getting a piece of rock kicked in his eye. Red never told anyone about this, scared that if he did, they may get hid of him. As a child, his family was very rich, his dad founded a town, and owned a brick factory, a flood washed away everything they had. Red had dreamed of being a jockey, his family sent his away with a family friend to fulfill that dream. That family friend disappered, and Red was left with no money and no where to go. Red tried to earn money boxing with other jockeys, but he wasn't very athletic. He was always reading books, so he was very smart. A few owners asked Red to ride, but he did ok but not good enough to win any money. Tom Smith, spotted Red and thought he had potential. Tom Smith found Seabiscuit one day at a race, he showed Charles Howard, he thought Seabiscuit was great. They bought Seabiscuit for $7, 500. He did good, in 1937, he won the Huntington Beach Handicap, a big race back then.Later, he was beaten by a nose in the Santa Anita Handicap by Rosemount, a great horse. After that loss, he went on a winning streak, winning 10 out of 11 races. He won five handicaps. He was voted champion older horse and he was the leading money-earning thoroughbred in 1937. His record for the year: 11 wins in 15 starts that's 168,580 dollars. Seabiscuit beat War Admiral, the best horse at the time. That was to be considered as the biggest horse race at the time. Seabiscuit continued to ride for two more years, continously winning, then retired after he became a bit weak. Seven years after he retired, he died. Everyone had heard of Seabiscuit, even I, before I had heard about the book or movie. Making a movie and book out of it was a great idea, I was inspired by Seabiscuit, really. I loved the book, even though the words were heard to understand, and they went on forever about every little thing, it was good.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Rooting For the Underdog., Feb. 5 2004
By 
tvtv3 "tvtv3" (Sorento, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
Several pages into, SEABISCUIT, I absolutely fell in love with the book. I learned so much about the history of racing, about Howard Shore, Tom Smith, George Woolf, and Red Pollard. Granted the book is a bit slow to read at first and the story splits back and forth between four different lives. However, everything comes together to tell the fascinating story of how Seabiscuit became the most loved horse in America.
I enjoyed the way the start of the book deals with the lives of four different creatures: one chapter is about Howard Shore, another Tom Smith, another Red Pollard, and another Seabiscuit. I found it fascinating how these four very different lives came together to form such a meaningful story. To me, it illustrates the ways that Providence works.
The book is also a piece of non-fiction, but the story almost reads like a novel. Descriptions of events are very detailed, vivid, and real. Looking over the sources at the end of the book, I do not doubt the research Ms. Hillenbrand put forth and find the tone to be a testament to her skills as a writer.
SEABISCUIT is a grand story about a grand horse. There will be some who simply won't like the book, but you shouldn't let that keep you from reading it yourself. "So long, Charley."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars Breathless and dubious, Feb. 2 2004
This review is from: Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Paperback)
Where to begin? About ten pages in, I began to smell a rat. This work claims to be nonfiction, but I'm not so sure.
The style of reporting at the time was to overhype. Everyone knows this, but instead of a turning a jaundiced eye, Ms. Hillebrand decided to adopt this practice as her own. There seems to be no tidbit about Seabiscuit reported at the time that she is prepared to disbelieve. Look at how many things in the bibliography are marked "SB" -- which, she explains, is the designation she uses for newspaper clippings which have no date or source attribution. If she could corraborate these through another source, then why not list the other source? She crows, in the Acknowledgements, about finding many cases where the facts she was researching were confirmed by multiple witnesses. Someone please tell the author this is called "corraborating evidence", and it is what you rely on when writing a historical account. Not faded overhyped singleton news clippings of unknown origin, which are quoted from oh so often without the slightest bit of skepticism. (For fun, swing on over to snopes dot com and do a search for "Seabiscuit".)
There are so many little details -- facial expressions, sighs, crowd reactions -- that are "just so", obviously written to thrill rather than inform, and it's quite impossible to believe that any historical research method short of a time machine could possibly reveal them. And these tidbits are always presented in such a way as to make Seabiscuit's rise more dramatic, trainer Smith more mysterious, jockey Pollard more unlikely.
The popularity of this book and its accompanying movie have effectively clouded the waters, so we'll probably never know the true story of Seabiscuit. Ms. Hillenbrand has launched an effective campaign towards his establishment as a fairy tale, however.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 358 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (Paperback - March 26 2002)
CDN$ 19.00 CDN$ 13.87
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews