Friday, August 3, 2012
Do you ever read a book and enjoy it thoroughly, yet get a little peeved at the same time? That's how I felt about Seabiscuit, An American Legend. And it is through no fault of the author or book that I feel that way. This book is so beautifully written that I'm actually contemplating picking up Unbroken, which is Laura Hillenbrand's newest book. Also a New York Times bestseller, by the way.
It took me a while to pick this book up after purchasing it at the Oklahoma City library book sale...oh, maybe two years ago? Books tend to pile up in my household...in fact, this quote that I pinned is sooooo me...
Regardless, it took me at least two years to pick up this book. Remember, a few posts ago, when I said that I was trying to read up all my books that have been on my to-read list the longest? Yea, this was one of them.
First off, this book gives you a fantastic background on each of the main characters in Seabiscuit's fame/life as well as what the racing community was like during this time period (1930s). You learn how Seabiscuit's owner is a bicycle repairmen turned car dealer who started taking in horses for trade-in on new vehicles. That's how he got into this arena. Crazy, huh? And Seabiscuit's trainer was a man of few words...seriously, the man was prone to one-word answers and there was never a true interview done with him because of this. He was a true horse whisperer.
The most fascinating piece of background that Hillenbrand covers involves Seabiscuit's jockeys. I had no idea that life for these men could be so horrendous. They were, literally, treated like subhumans and were traded like slaves. Not to mention their eating and exercising habits. I really think that when young girls' eating habits revolving anorexia and bulimia began, it was a result of someone reading up on how jockeys kept their weights so low. Seriously.
Now, back to the reason this book was written...Seabiscuit. This horse was hilarious. He LOVED to eat, so much to the point that many times they had to muzzle him to keep him from eating his own bedding. I mean, how else do you control a horse's weight right before a big race? Plus, he liked to goad his opponents. He loved to make eye contact with them during a race and take off, showing them up. Then, he did his best to prance around them and huff in their faces post-race. Priceless.
Now, at this point you're probably wanting to know why this book made me a teensy bit angry? The build-up to the race with Seabiscuit's biggest rival, Man o' War, went on and on and on. And on. I thought they'd never meet up. And this is one of those instances where truth can be stranger than fiction. That's how it really happened. For whatever reason, the race kept getting cancelled or one of the horses had to scratch or something. Let me just say, that when the race finally happened in the book, I was thinking to myself, "Well, it's about time!" And I'm sure everyone in America felt the same way. President Roosevelt even had the radio going in the Oval Office at the time and refused to further conduct national business until he knew who won. That's what a big deal this race was.
I really and truly enjoyed this book and all the information it shared. I felt like I really learned something about that part of history, yet at the same time felt entertained.