Awards & Reviews of Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

More than one year on the New York Times best seller list
#1 New York Times best seller in hardcover, six consecutive weeks
#1 New York Times best seller in paperback, 16 weeks and counting
#1 Washington Post best seller in hardcover, six consecutive weeks
#1 Washington Post best seller in paperback
#1 Los Angeles Times best seller in hardcover and paperback

Winner, William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award
BookSense Nonfiction Book of the Year
Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award
Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Finalist, Borders Original Voices Awards
Runner-up, Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards

Named one of the best books of 2001 by:
National Public Radio's "Fresh Air", #1 Nonfiction Book
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Time Magazine, #4 Nonfiction Book, #6 Nonfiction Book
USA Today, #1 Sports Book and one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2001
People Magazine
The Economist
New York Magazine
Barnes and Noble (in 3 categories--histories, biographies & sports books)
...and many more

Attention Book Groups:
The paperback edition of Seabiscuit: An American Legend is a Ballantine Reader's Circle title, complete with an author interview and discussion questions. Click here to see the questions and interview online.

A first-rate piece of storytelling, leaving us not only with a vivid portrait of a horse but with a fascinating slice of American history as well....In telling the Cinderella story of Seabiscuit and his devoted trainer, owner and jockey, the author Laura Hillenbrand has written an absorbing book that stands as a model of sportswriting at its best.

----MICHIKO KAKUTANI, The New York Times

Dazzling...Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, 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 the incredible tale of Seabiscuit...Like a brilliant jockey, Hillenbrand suspensefully manages her champion of a story. In the final stretch, it hurtles towards it's climax.

--GLORIA CORRIGAN, National Public Radio, Fresh Air

Wonderful...Ideally, you wouldn't just find Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit: An American Legend in bookstores. It would be next to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole or Lee Wiley CD's, as well-- anywhere you'd go to look for love songs....[Hillenbrand] has an astounding eye for detail: The stories of the races in which Seabiscuit shattered speed records are turned into infinities where the possibilities of winning or losing reveal themselves in infinitesimal increments. These passages are almost unbearably suspenseful. Hillenbrand also has a good sense of what to leave out, which may account for the book's near-perfect pacing and length...The heart of its appeal is in its seamless combination of triumph and melancholy.

--SALON is a flawless trip, with the detail of good history, the blistering pace of Biscuit himself and the charm of grand legend.

--JIM SQUIRES, The New York Times Book Review

A galloping success...A fascinating portrait of an era and a wildly exciting, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction yarn...The phrase even if you don't like horses is sure to be tacked on by most people recommending Seabiscuit to a friend...All of this is so vividly rendered, it's hard to believe Seabiscuit was written by anyone who didn't live through the events it describes.


It's a terrific story, but it's more than just a horse's tale, because the humans who owned, trained and rode Seabiscuit are equally fascinating...Hillenbrand not only ties...divergent personalities into a fast-moving narrative but also shows an extraordinary talent for describing a horse race so vividly that the reader feels like the rider. She writes about the confusion, turbulence and artistry of a race with the same grasp of sound and movement that Whitney Balliett beings to jazz in his New Yorker profiles. That is no mean accomplishment...Even if your interest in horses goes no further than hansom cabs, you'll find this book engrossing. Inevitably it will be filmed for the big screen again. Don't wait for it. Read the book.

--RON FIMRITE, Sports Illustrated

I wept as I read...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...You can smell the tang of liniment as the horses come into the saddling enclosure, see the union of muscle and nerve as they course down the track, hear the race being called, the crowd cheering their favorite on...Hillenbrand 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.


Delightful...Hillenbrand also proves to be a wonderful storyteller, with a graceful style that can be appropriately witty, serious or taut with suspense. The result is a book that is great fun to read....Best of all, Hillenbrand understands that this book is more than a tale of a great horse. It's a window on an era in American history...This is a great story beautifully told.


Good sports books are few and far between, good ones on racing even more so. So it is hugely refreshing when one as fine as this one comes along. The research is meticulous, the writing elegant and concise, so that every page transports you back to the period...This is a remarkable tale well told by a writer who deftly blends history and sport. Seabiscuit should captivate a new generation of readers from beyond the world of horse racing.


Eloquent and nostalgic...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...Hillenbrand's accounts...which tingle with the lovely you-are-there suspense of newsreels, deftly resurrect Depression-era U.S. racing in all its dramas, jubilation, tragedies, risks and dark secrets...Hillenbrand gives us a sepia-washed glimpse of what this whole country was like in the days when a man's fedora cost $3, when Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt played football in the mud with the exercise boys at Pimlico, and when Franklin Roosevelt kept a roomful of advisors waiting while he listened to a horse race on the radio. Seabiscuit is a winner.


Great...[Hillenbrand's] effort shows in the details and the energy of her story; her historical figures, horses and people, live and breathe in a lovely, lively way.

--Pulitzer Prize-winning author JANE SMILEY, the Washington Post

A splendid book that vividly reminds us of a shining time that has been all but forgotten.


It would be hard to think of a better story than the one told in Laura Hillenbrand's richly detailed and engaging new biography...Hillenbrand brings tremendous enthusiasm and professional polish to her task...expertly weaving together some vivid scene setting with evocations of the wild days of racing, with its larger-than-life entrepreneurs...The narration of the animal's improbable wins in his two biggest events is as gripping as the last quarter of any well-written novel or play...This story is one that should prove irresistible to millions.

--DANIEL MENDELSOHN, New York Magazine

As good a book on thoroughbred racing as I have ever read....It is a remarkable story, and Hillenbrand tells it in a fashion that is often poetic....This is a story about the ultimate underdog, surrounded by memorable characters, and it is just as compelling today as it was in 1938.

--ANDREW BEYER, The Washington Post

Terrific....Hillenbrand brings alive the potent power that human beings feel when seated astride a horse flying down the track....Illuminating a forgotten piece of American history, Seabiscuit brings alive the drama, the beauty, the louche charm and the brutality of horse racing.


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 in these pages that it hurts to lose him again, even after all this time.


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.

--SHERRYL CONNELLY, New York Daily News

Fascinating...An arresting debut.


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. I wish all sportswriters could write like this.

--best selling author STEPHEN AMBROSE

Seabiscuit is one hell of a ride....Seabiscuit's triumph remains a terrifically appealing Cinderella story, but it's Hillenbrand's instinctual feel for the drama of the sport and her formidable literary talents that bring the tale to life. Best of all is the wonderful bowlegged swagger of Hillenbrand's voice.


Penetrating and thoughtful...Hillenbrand is a deft storyteller whose descriptions of races are especially good, filled with images of pounding hooves and splattering mud. But Seabiscuit is more than a horse story. It is an account of the flowering of a mass-spectator sport in an age when the public was starved for distraction. It also is an absorbing tale of three quirky humans...As a result of Hillenbrand's pursuit of details, the narrative has a texture seldom found in sports biographies.

--MARK HYMAN, Business Week

Hillenbrand's detailed and dramatic re-creation 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. And it's mighty good reading, even if you're not a racing fan.

--BOOKLIST (starred)

The stirring depiction of Seabiscuit's 1938 triumph over War Admiral, a victory shared with 40 million Americans via radio, could convince the most tightfisted of readers to make a trip to the track.

--KAREN VALBY, Entertainment Weekly

A charmer. This is a celebratory tale about an unlikely champion, a creature of personality and persistence..

--ALLYSON HAGY, Chicago Tribune

Terrific writing....A fascinating account of one of the sport's most alluring icons....Seabiscuit often reads like a novel.

--DEBRA GINSBERG, San Diego Union Tribune

A thrilling ride...Gripping...What a story it is...filled with high drama and colorful characters.

--MICHAEL GILTZ, New York Post

A gallop of a read...There's something seductive about writing that's saga-esque and driving. And that's what Hillenbrand gives us...What makes Seabiscuit more than an account of three men and a remarkable horse, however, is Hillenbrand's talent for framing the mise-en-scene of Depression America. Through finely-observed details, she reveals the social fabric of the country during that difficult decade and the place horse racing filled in the American psyche.

--MARK McGARRITY, Newark Star-Ledger

Gracefully written and engrossing...In Seabiscuit: An American Legend, Laura Hillenbrand, an excellent storyteller, has an excellent story to tell...Hillenbrand's book has two distinct pleasures. The first is that she writes well and sympathetically about people in racing--especially jockeys-- and American racing culture in the first part of the 20th century. Equally important, Hillenbrand understands what makes a horse race exciting: Her descriptions of races run some 60 years ago are dramatic and involving, old-fashioned fist-pumpers that one needn't be an expert to understand...Indeed, one need not be an obsessional fan to enjoy this book...its appeal is universal.

--RACHEL SALTZ, Daily Racing Form

Hillenbrand's narrative is so authoritative and compelling that the book becomes one of those rarities: page-turning nonfiction.

--POHLA SMITH, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Writers, like bettors, dream of trifectas and author Laura Hillenbrand has lit up the tote with Seabiscuit. Hillenbrand's book has it all...Seabiscuit: An American Legend is going to be the Thoroughbred racing book that draws in thousands of readers who don't know a furlong from a fetlock.

--JOHN ANGELO, American Turf Monthly

Hillenbrand deserves our thanks for taking us back to a half-forgotten time and making it as full of life and possibilities as Seabiscuit and War Admiral coming down the stretch with the crowd on its feet, screaming and straining for a glimpse of the finish.

--RON RAPOPORT, Chicago Sun-Times

This is a thrilling American story, a book that succeeds as dramatic history and remarkable sportswriting.

--RON ROSENBAUM, author of Explaining Hitler

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.

--ANNE STEPHENSON, Arizona Republic