Seabiscuit

Laura Hillenbrand

In 1936, as Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ was published, the habits of 19th-century America were finally consigned to history. In their place, modern America was born.

But what defined this new era? Nothing more than the story of Seabiscuit, a stunted colt with asymmetrical knees that had for two years been hacked around no-good race tracks. Yet by 1937 Seabiscuit could draw crowds of 60,000 and had more newspaper column inches devoted to him than Mussolini, Hitler or Roosevelt.

During an appearance at the Santa Anita Handicap, his popularity peaked. America had gone to the races for the first time since the Depression and fallen in love with a misshapen colt of great character. Now it wanted a winner.

‘Seabiscuit’ tells the tale of one horse’s fluctuating fortunes, and the three men who devoted so much time to the dream: Tom Smith, a former Wild West Showman and Seabiscuit’s trainer; Red Pollard, who was abandoned by his poverty stricken family at a race track but became Seabiscuit’s rider; and Charles Howard, a pioneer car manufacturer in San Francisco in the 1920s who financed the entire project. These three combined to create the legend of Seabiscuit and epitomise a dream for the emerging new America.

Reviews of Seabiscuit

  • ‘A rip-roaring narrative from a cobwebbed chapter of the Depression…Hillenbrand tells the story of the triumphs and tribulations of her cast of misfits with flair and skill, relishing the larger than life characters who inhabited this forgotten demimonde.’ Stuart Wavell, Sunday Times

    ‘Most readable…a wonderful tale.’ Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Daily Mail

    ‘A literary sensation.’ Mark Steinberger, Financial Times

    Great horse, great name, great story, very good book…this one could run and run.’ Observer