Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, 4/5
This true story wasn’t quite as readable as I’d expected, having been absolutely blown away by Hillenbrand’s later work Unbroken. I was partly to blame for approaching the book with a skepticism that made me look disconsolately for footnotes where there were none. For some reason, I just couldn’t escape the nagging question “does she really know what all the people in her story said and felt, or is she just making it all up?” I would have had a much more enjoyable experience if I’d read the end notes, acknowledgements and interview with the author at the end of the book first. These sources helped me realize the insane amount of time and energy Hillenbrand, already an accomplished equestrian author, put into researching the story of Seabiscuit.
I just have to point out how bizarre it is that the horse’s face didn’t make it onto the cover of the book! Even the image on the spine is of the jockey, not his famous steed.
Why I read it: I was looking for something light to read while traveling and Seabiscuit had been on my radar for quite a while.
Several people recommended this book to me, so naturally, I expected it to suck (following the observable and direct correlation between popularity and shitness… *ahem* 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight *ahem*). Given this [realistic, not pessimistic] expectation, I was first surprised to find myself not hating the beginning chapter, then shocked to find the rest of the book to be an extremely enjoyable page-turner. Not only does the story have enough drama and action for four movies, but it is based on a true account and is written sensibly. Hillenbrand doesn’t waste the reader’s time or make loads of obnoxious speculations about characters’ subjective feelings. The book is well-formatted, with pictures placed strategically throughout instead of in annoying inserts. The last time I was this surprised to love a book was War and Peace.