Man o' War: A Legend Like Lightning
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Man o' War: A Legend Like Lightning

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  968 ratings  ·  28 reviews
His trainer said that managing him was like holding a tiger by the tail. His owner compared him to “chain lightning.” His jockeys found their lives transformed by him, in triumphant and distressing ways. All of them became caught in a battle for honesty.
Born in 1917, Man o’ War grew from a rebellious youngster into perhaps the greatest racehorse of all time. He set such as...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published May 2nd 2006)
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Having completed biographies of seabiscuit and secretariat, I decided that my next horse book should be about man o'war. I knew that he is considered to be the greatest racehorse of the 20th century, but I didn't know much else. That is definitely not true anymore. This book tells, in great detail, the overwhelming story of this great horse. Dorothy Ours has clearly done a great deal of research (and working for the horse racing museum in Saratoga no doubt gave her a huge amount of access to inf...more
This book was about the greatest racehorse ever. It talks about his records and how great he was. "Man O' War may set a new (stakes) record this afternoon and beat Wildair by a couple of lengths," It says that he has a lot of fans and a lot of people who loved him. "A good many of those who go to the tracks on days when Man O' War is scheduled to start really do not care whether he is confronted with a contest or a mere gallop" (page 208). It also talks about his ups and downs and how he always...more
I went into this book with lowered expectations, that somehow Ours managed to undershoot.

On the upside, this really is a learned and completed guide to the life and career of Man o' War. Ours' is extremely reliable on every angle of this extraordinary horse. So that's the good part, I now know a lot of things about Man o' War.

The downside is that this is not interesting in itself. This book has no spark, no sense of momentum or personality or narrative. This is compounded by Ours' failings as a...more
Man o’ War is hailed as the greatest Thoroughbred of the 20 th Century. Nothing in history can dispute this claim. His speed and energy are legendary. He ran 21 races and won 20 of them, often setting new speed records. This may not sound like many races, but he had some trouble finding willing competition. Owners did not want to enter their horses into a race that was a guaranteed loss.
The book starts slowly building to an exciting second half. Extensive background information is included. Inf...more
Recently I finished this great biography on Man O' War. He was a legendary race horse, he was up for any challenge what was thrown at him. After every race he looed like he could win another. You don't hear about horses like that anymore. "He would sprint to the front and watch the others try and match his powerful strides." His stride measured 28 feet, the average racehorse's stride is 22 feet. The way the book was written brought you into the time and hardships of everyone around. The author m...more
This book puts in one place the pertinent information on the great racehorse, Man 'O War. "Big Red" as he was known, won 20 of his 21 races in 1919 and 1920 and was retired at the peak of his racing career to go into the breeding program to pass his genes along to his descendants. Man 'O War carried the heaviest weights per age of any horse in racing.

The most interesting aspect of this book was the history of Johnny Loftus, Man 'O War's jockey. Jockey's were granted a license to ride each year...more
Dorothy Ours does a fantastic job introducing the nuances of horse racing while layering together a tale that had me hooked immediately. I appreciated that her meticulous research gave fair treatment to the plurality of perspectives from the people who were part of Man O' War's racing career -- it never felt like an insider's diatribe. This was some powerful storytelling -- I not only found myself cheering for Big Red but also tearing up at some of his more dramatic races. I definitely recommend...more
This is the authority on Man o' War! You won't find a better reference on the subject. Ours did some serious research, and it shows.

Hopefully this will help debunk that stupid myth that Man o' War 'was originally "My Man o' War"!!' that everyone repeats as fact, which is ridiculous.

There are several other urban legends she debunks, and interesting facts she unearths in their place. Not only that, but she manages to make the whole thing interesting and engaging. How rare is that?

Definitely pick...more
Mr. Kovach
A fact-filled (sometimes too much so) recounting of the great Thoroughbred Man o' War. Imagine hitting cleanup in a lineup that includes Babe Ruth. That'll tell you how good Lou Gehrig was. Imagine being voted horse of the century in one that includes Secretariat. That'll tell you how great Man o' War was. An interesting book (if a bit longish), most especially for horse lovers. Hillenbrand's book on the Biscuit spoiled me for quality in horse books or I might have liked this book even more. Def...more
Overall, this is a really good read, though not as engaging as Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. It does a nice of job of researching what was available and is a great time capsule for how the sport of horse racing has both changed and stayed the same over the years. One extra that I would have liked to see at the end was a brief listing of some the Man o'War's more famous offspring. He stood at stud for a fairly long time, it would have been cool to see some of the greats that he sired.
Sarah Payok
Man o'War was a surprising disappointment. The lore around the horse is so fantastic that I'm not quite sure how Dorothy Ours managed to make it seem dull. Each race is reported dutifully but with so little color and context that it felt like reading the race guides at the track. Even her chronicle of Man o'War's final race with Sir Barton was a slog. If you are just looking to learn about Man o'War, this book fits the bill but if you're looking for an enjoyable read, skip it.
Aug 07, 2008 Mackay rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horse lovers, racing fans
Shelves: biography
For horse lovers or racing afficianados, an interesting (even valuable) book. But it's no Seabiscuit. Perhaps it's harder to take The Very Best and make it as interesting as The Underdog...but no, I don't think that's it. What I loved about Seabiscuit was the cultural history surrounding the horse story. This book doesn't have that dimension.

Yet, I have a soft spot for Big Red and I'm not sorry I read it.
A workman-like retelling of the early development of the modern racing industry and the movers and shakers who were central to its formation and public acceptance and success. Extremely interesting to compare racing practices then and now and to find that not that unfortunately not much in reality, has changed.

It is unforgivable that there were absolutely no photos in the book.
Lynne Page
Man O'War was my favourite racehorse of all time. I read about him when growing up, and dreamed of one day owning horses.
This book does his life justice, as well as setting the scene and introducing you to the key characters in his life.
I highly recommend this book as it showcases horse racing during a time when horse racing was an important part of life.
I went into this book with great expectations and was vastly underwhelmed. I'm a horse nut and am probably being overly kind with a two star rating. All the facts and figures are there. Ours took a story about one of the greatest race horses that ever lived and managed to make reading it akin to eating a piece of dry toast.
My trip down memory lane is complete. Having read a book about Man O' War over and over again as a child, I wanted to see what it would be like 35 years later. This book is different than what I read way back then, but it was a good read. An incredibly compelling story about a great horse.
Excellent read if you enjoy the racing scene and the history of Man O'War. The book goes into great detail about the jockeys, owners and trainers and each race. I found it hard to put it down. Also, the reference was detailed and the original photos helped put a face to a name.
I have always been fascinated by Man O'War, since I was a child and read Walter Farley's fictional version. I found the book well researched, and it provided an interesting insight to horse racing at the time. I would recommend Seabiscuit though before Man O'War.
I don't read a lot of non-fiction (get enough of that on a daily basis, haha!) but I finally went back to this. Just amazes me how they used to train racehorses, and how frequently they ran. Today's horses (and trainers!!) are such wimps!
Emily Drew
This book was amazing!!!!!!! I loved every bit of it!!!!

When Man O' War lost that one race i was bewildered. I thought to myself, has he lost his will?
But when he came back and won by all those lengths i knew he was back
Sep 09, 2007 Timothy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history or horse buffs
I didn't know much about horse racing in the first part of the 20th century. Now I do. Perhaps it will lead me to read more about horses, who knows...
A good history about a great horse. Kept my interest- didn't feel slow or draggy like some biographies can drift toward.
This book wasn't that great I actually never finished. It had tons of fasts and dates but it was missing the heart.
Stephanie A.
Love the horse and the general story, but it's tough to make racetrack history compelling.
Prose was overreaching. Invites comparison to Lauren Hillenbrand--big mistake. Couldn't finish.
Carissa Gilman
Meticulously researched and very engaging.
Well done historical account
Alicia Anderson
Alicia Anderson marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2014
Lynne added it
Sep 19, 2014
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Always been a bookworm. Love horses. Love history. Horses led me to become an author, because too many goodies about the great Man o' War and his era had been buried in the past -- had to share.

And then Battleship and his people stepped up, and showed how researching their lives wasn't enough -- they made me hear the music of storytelling.

Along with books, horses, and history, I love music, visual...more
More about Dorothy Ours...
Battleship: A Daring Heiress, a Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse

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