Seabiscuit_An_American_LegendBibliographic Information
Title: Seabiscuit

Author: Laura Hillenbrand

ISBN: 0-345-46508-3

Publisher: Ballantine

Copyright: 2001

Book Details
Jacket Art & Illustrator: AP/Wide World Photo

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle

Page Count: 399

Awards: Over 16, including:

  • National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • William Hill Sports Book of the Year, 2001NPR #1 Non-fiction Book of the Year, 2001
  • ‘The Economist’ Best Book of the Year, 2001

Plot Summary

In a nation being crushed under the weight of the Great Depression, fearing an ascendent Hitler and Mussolini, the leading news of the day wasn’t politics, or Joe DiMaggio’s brilliant baseball, or FDR, or war.

It was a horse. And a rather odd-looking horse at that. Seabiscuit was his name, and he could run faster than any other horse in the world. Special trains were commissioned to carry fans to watch him race. The new-common merchandising tie in was invented for him – you could get Seabiscuit-branded wallets, gloves, hats, and various parlor games. Forty million people – one third of the nation – tuned into radio broadcasts of his races. In what was to be his final race, 78,000 people attended – a record for a sporting event not soon surpassed.

Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of the creature that may well be considered the world’s greatest athlete is brilliant and compelling. In a cliche-ridded world of superlatives, it is a must-read.

Critical Evaluation

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to find a flaw in this book, Award-winning as a book, and award-winning as a novel, it is simply excellent. Although it is near 400 pages in the mass-market paperback version, the writing is clear and compelling, and accessible to middle-grade readers and up. It offers insights and reflections not only on Seabiscuit himself, or on horse-racing, but also on the struggles, defeats, and victories that Americans faced in those difficult days. Like “Cinderella Man”, this book is a reflection of every aspect of those times, and both a tribute and a memorial to a bygone era.

Reader’s Annotation

A funny-looking horse named Seabiscuit changed everything. Find out how, and why.

Information about the Author

Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Hillenbrand spent much of her childhood riding bareback on her father’s Sharpsburg, Maryland, farm. A favorite of hers was Come On Seabiscuit, a 1963 kiddie book. She studied at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, but was forced to leave before graduation when she developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She now lives in Washington, D.C, and rarely leaves her house because of the condition. Hillenbrand married Borden Flanagan, a professor of Government at American University and her college sweetheart, in 2008. She described the onset and early years of her illness in an award-winning essay, A Sudden Illness, which can be found online.

Hillenbrand’s first book was the acclaimed Seabiscuit. She says she was compelled to tell the story because she found fascinating people living a story that was improbable, breathtaking and ultimately more satisfying than any story she’d ever come across.

Hillenbrand’s second book was Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, a biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini.

Her essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Equus magazine, American Heritage, The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred Times, The Backstretch, Turf and Sport Digest, and many other publications. Her 1998 American Heritage article on the horse Seabiscuit won the Eclipse Award for Magazine Writing.

Hillenbrand is a co-founder of Operation International Children.


Nonfiction, biography, sports

Curriculum Ties


Booktalking ideas

How has sports news and reporting changed since the 1930s? In what ways has it remained the same?

Do you think any horse could achieve this level of media dominance today?

Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: 12 and up

Challenge Issues




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