“Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bullfighters.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
So for my next review, something a bit different. An animal themed book. A true story. About a horse that defied all odds, whose stature and quirks set him aside from the rest. This is the true story of Seabiscuit.
In 1938, a year when Mussolini, Roosevelt and Hitler nonetheless dominates the news, one figure by the name of Seabiscuit received more coverage than all of them. Undersized, crooked-legged, this racehorse turned out to be an icon and a world-class athlete.
“The world narrowed to a man and his horse, running.”
It wasn’t all buttercups and daisies though as for many a horse racing season, Seabiscuit was amongst the lowest ranks of racing…that was, until, after realising he was misunderstood and mishandled; three men united forces and took the biscuit on.
“It’s easy to talk to a horse if you understand his language. Horses stay the same from the day they are born until the day they die. They are only changed by the way people treat them.”
Together, the three of them, with the additional help of one or two, created a champion.
“…the little horse and the men who rehabilitated him captured the American imagination.”
Jockey Red Pollard and intermittently George Woolf, trainer/handler Tom Smith and owner Charles Howard created an underdog that everyone rooted for.
This is so heartwarming in the sense that we can success when the odds are stacked against any success at all and seems mightily impossible.
“It wasn’t just greatness that drew the people to them. It was their story. It began with a young man on a train, pushing west.”.
The obstacles that the men in this novel and Seabiscuit faced and overcame is incredible in this day and age let alone back then.
It also allows us as readers to get an insight into the lives of the jockeys for being a jockey wasn’t plain sailing. Boys 8 years old and sometimes younger would be picked and as they grew up they used any way possible to keep their weight down so they could continue to ride. The dangers being a jockey possessed was a high one – should it all go horrible wrong, you could end up paying with your life.
If you ever visit the Santa Anita racetrack please look for George Woolf and Seabiscuit, their statues remain their, facing each other, till this day!
I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this book, but instead I loved it. Heartwarming and heart wrenching, a tear jerker for both good and bad and a true sense of how he changed the perceptions of everyone, how he warmed the hearts of a nation.
If this underdogs story sounds like one that’s right up your track (see what I did there), then check out the book below!
Until next time (when another king of another kind may grace the reviews),