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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (46,673 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Laura Hillenbrand Narrator: Campbell Scott Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2000 ISBN: 9780375419669
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Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:

Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Fascinating…Vivid…A first-rate piece of storytelling, leaving us not only with a vivid portrait of a horse but a fascinating slice of American history as well.”

    New York Times

  • Fascinating . . . Vivid . . . A first-rate piece of storytelling, leaving us not only with a vivid portrait of a horse but a fascinating slice of American history as well. The New York Times
  • Engrossing . . . Fast-moving . . . More than just a horse’s tale, because the humans who owned, trained, and rode Seabiscuit are equally fascinating. . . . [Hillenbrand] shows an extraordinary talent for describing a horse race so vividly that the reader feels like the rider. Sports Illustrated
  • REMARKABLE . . . MEMORABLE . . . JUST AS COMPELLING TODAY AS IT WAS IN 1938. The Washington Post
  • “Remarkable…Memorable…Just as compelling today as it was in 1938.”

    Washington Post

  • “More than a tale of a great horse. It’s a window on an era in American history…Hillenbrand also proves to be a wonderful storyteller, with a graceful style that can be appropriately witty, serious, or taut with suspense.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Eloquent…Seabiscuit was a comeback kid for a comeback time, and in the course of this scrupulously researched recounting, Hillenbrand manages to tell not only an inspiring horse story but also an engrossing human one…Deftly resurrects Depression-era U.S. racing in all its dramas, jubilation, tragedies, risks, and dark secrets…Seabiscuit is a winner.”

    Miami Hearld

  • “Seemingly written from the saddle…Even if you’re not a racing fan—especially if you’re not—this self-possessed animal comes across so sharply…that it hurts to lose him again, even after all this time.”

    Newsday

  • “A fascinating account of one of the sport’s most alluring icons.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • “Engrossing…Fast-moving…More than just a horse’s tale, because the humans who owned, trained, and rode Seabiscuit are equally fascinating…[Hillenbrand] shows an extraordinary talent for describing a horse race so vividly that the reader feels like the rider.”

    Sports Illustrated

  • “Hillenbrand, a contributing writer at Equus magazine, is a deft storyteller whose descriptions of such races are especially good, filled with images of pounding hooves and splattering mud.”

    BusinessWeek

  • “Wonderful…Astounding…The stories of the races in which Seabiscuit shattered speed records are…almost unbearably suspenseful…The heart of [this book’s] appeal is in its seamless combination of triumph and melancholy.”

    Salon.com

  • “You don’t have to like horses to respond to such a rousing story. Why? Because Hillenbrand doesn’t just tell the story; she recreates it…[She] knows horses, knows racing, knows training, and knows riding, and she relays the skill and sweat and sweet intuition that go into it…Guess what you end up with? A book that’s brilliant and convincing. Seabiscuit belongs in the winner’s circle.”

    Austin-American Statesman

  • “Terrific…Illuminating a forgotten piece of American history, Seabiscuit brings alive the drama, the beauty, the louche charm, and the brutality of horse racing.”

    USA Today

  • “Laura Hillenbrand knows racehorses, riders, and trainers. She knows our history. She knows how the two combine. Seabiscuit was a great horse, perhaps the best ever, running in one of the worst decades ever, the Great Depression, bringing excitement and pleasure to millions of Americans when they needed those emotions desperately. This is more than a fine piece of writing about the sport of racing; it is also about our history.”

    Stephen Ambrose

  • “The research is meticulous, the writing elegant and concise…[It] transports you back to the period…This is a remarkable tale well told by a writer who deftly blends history and sport.”

    Economist

  • “Compelling…It is the story of a time when the heroic generation of the following decade was itself being nurtured, and when unsuspected strength and endurance were still values to champion.”

    New York Daily News

  • “This is a terrific biography of what might have been the greatest racehorse that ever lived—and you don’t have to know anything about racing to enjoy it.”

    Arizona Republic

  • “Dazzling…Seabiscuit does for the world of horse racing what Into Thin Air did for mountain climbing. In daredevil prose that sprints along at a breakneck pace, Hillenbrand tells [an] incredible tale…In the final stretch, it hurtles towards its climax.”

    NPR, Fresh Air

  • “Hillenbrand’s detailed and dramatic recreation of Seabiscuit’s life and times is a remarkable testament to what four years of meticulous research and a writer’s gift for storytelling can accomplish.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year for Nonfiction
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Nonfiction
  • A 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Biography
  • A 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist for General Nonfiction
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • A #1 USA Today Bestseller
  • A 2001 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2001

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marisa Lyden geraghty | 2/17/2014

    " Fantastic read about the personal story of this amazing horse and those who loved him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carole Robinson | 2/10/2014

    " Now I chose this one because I totally enjoyed Laura's "Unbroken". I loved her style of writing and appreciated the amount of research she put into it. I think I saw the movie, but don't remmeber. However this book will not be forgotten. I learned so much about the horse racing industry as well as the lifestyle of many during the end of the Great Depression. The characters were easy to know through Hillenbrand's writing. Again, I don't follow racing or horse husbandry either, but this book was well worth the read. Enjoy folks!!! Even if you remember seeing the movie. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nikolina Hansen | 2/4/2014

    " So moving action. That sounds strange to describe a book about horse racing. The detail about the racing interesting and informative but at times bogged done. I did learn about the history about the sport as well as some other historical events at the time "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra | 1/28/2014

    " A well written style that makes you think you are reading a novel. This was way better than the movie. At the end of the movie there were so many unanswered questions, especially about Red Pollard and his abandonment by his parents. In the book you discover that Pollard was not truly abandoned for his entire life. He regularly sent home money to his family in Canada so that they could keep the family house. At one time his father came a great distance and at great expense to see him ride. Also, at the end you receive an epilogu that takes you to the end of Pollard's, Howard's, Woolfe's and Seabiscuit's lives. All in all, a great read. I will definitely read another of Hllenbrand's books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anna Tielmann | 1/25/2014

    " The detail and emotion in this book is amazing. Laura Hillenbrand definitely did her homework and was able to bring her characters to life as well as inform her readers on the difficulties, horrors, trials, and triumphs of the jockeys in the late 1930s and early 1940s. I was hooked from the start. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pegi Hover | 1/23/2014

    " What can I say. This story had it all. Laura Hildebrand's first novel is stellar! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sparrow | 1/22/2014

    " So interesting to read a story about a horse and the culture of horseracing from the 1930s. Hillenbrand researches and recreates a rich story that captured my attention about a topic I never thought I would be curious about! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David R. | 1/20/2014

    " Wonderful storytelling throughout: Hillebrand brings to life the arcana of horse racing in the 1930s, the highs and lows, and the remarkable personalities. To the last it's a powerful, yet fun narrative. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Krissy | 1/20/2014

    " Laura Hillenbrand is such a great author that she gets you caring passionately about a subject you had absolutely no interest in before. Amazing! This book was followed up with a few Seabiscuit documentaries, and, of course, the movie. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glinn | 1/12/2014

    " Loved it! Fascinating characters, fascinating history, amazingly researched. (DO NOT see the movie. Nuff said.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Addie Pulley | 1/10/2014

    " I loved it...it's as good as William Nack's Secretariat!!!!!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 12/30/2013

    " Could not put this book down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny Anderson schultz | 12/12/2013

    " Very good audiobook. I enjoyed listening to it and enjoyed the story although I had already watched the movie so had the basics of the plot. Laura Hillenbrand is great to listen to. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily Czarnecki | 12/10/2013

    " Much better than the movie. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gabrielle | 12/5/2013

    " We had to read this for 9th grade lit. It was due right as we went on a band trip. I can honestly say no one in the band enjoyed or finished the book. We planned on reading it together and discussing it, but instead complained about the dry writing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Coats | 12/3/2013

    " This was great! The tension leading to the race between Sea Biscuit and War Admiral was intense. I could vividly picture the horses fighting for the lead in every race. The amount of research was staggering--it made the story seem incredibly real. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aly Lawson | 11/16/2013

    " A history and a story. I never thought historical books could walk that fine line between informational and interesting. Kinda like Moneyball with less stats. Tip: As always, I recommend reading the book then watching or re-watching the movie. Secretariat is also a good film chaser. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 11/15/2013

    " Interesting, but too many details that seemed repetitive and made the book feel way too long. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erica Berg | 3/31/2013

    " Loved this book and the history it tells about the U.S. and an underdog horse. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 8/26/2012

    " Seabiscuit was as good the second time I read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paige Pell | 8/15/2012

    " Fascinating story, quick read. Even if you aren't a horse lover or follower of racing, this book gives a glimpse into the American lifestyle of the late 1930's which is compelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tina | 5/12/2012

    " I do not generally read sports books but this is an excellent read, great insight into horse racing and the characters involved. I was quite susprised on how easy and interesting this book was. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 2/2/2012

    " Historical account....1930s America....racing horse legend Seabiscuit's circuit start to finish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul Schenk | 10/31/2011

    " If you enjoy horse stories, you'll love this book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly | 9/13/2011

    " Never let a movie ruin a good book. The movie was excellent and the book is even better. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheila | 8/9/2011

    " So interesting! Laura Hillenbrand brings the world of horse racing to life with her prose. I felt that I was at the race track watching Seabiscuit's races. I learned a lot of things I did not know. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Allison | 7/11/2011

    " I decided to read this book because it was recommended to me, and because it was written by the same author who wrote Unbroken (which I LOVED). And again, even though I am not a nonfiction girl, this book was fantastic. I really got into it, and am glad to have read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 5/22/2011

    " Although I care nothing about horse racing, this book was a real page turner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Selene | 5/8/2011

    " Fantastic book. I have no interest in seeing a horse race but the descriptions of horse racing in this book were absolutely gripping. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 5/5/2011

    "
    I'm amazed that this is a true story!
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deb | 5/4/2011

    " I loved the story and all the research held together by the drama of Seabiscuit's life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 5/4/2011

    " I appreciated the hard work that went into researching and writing this book, but I felt it was really tedious to get through. There were WAY too many details for me, especially in a book about a horse. I felt like I learned a lot, but it was kind of a chore to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kit | 5/2/2011

    " One of my favorite contemporary journalists. Hillenbrand's "A Sudden Illness" from The New Yorker is an incredible piece of journalism. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pam | 4/26/2011

    " This book was endearing and fascinating. It sent me on a quest to find out more on the subject. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mimi | 4/23/2011

    " Excellent story! Learned a lot about the history of the times in addition to the story of a great horse. "

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About the Author
Author Laura HillenbrandLaura Hillenbrand is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, and Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, landed on more than fifteen best-of-the-year lists, and inspired the film Seabiscuit, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. She is serving as a consultant on the Universal Pictures feature film based on Unbroken. Hillenbrand’s New Yorker article, “A Sudden Illness,” won the National Magazine Award. Her work has also appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. She and actor Gary Sinise were the cofounders of Operation International Children, a charity that provided school supplies to children through American troops.
About the Narrator

Campbell Scott has, in addition to his numerous stage and film credits, narrated more than forty audiobooks, including This Boy’s Life and Into Thin Air.