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Black Maestro: The Epic Life of an American Legend

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  62 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
The life of Jimmy Winkfield is an exuberant epic: the seventeenth child of Kentucky sharecroppers, he was the last black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, and survived the Ku Klux Klan, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and the Nazis, and died a wealthy landowner in a French chateau.

Jimmy Winkfield is surely the oddest and most invisible witness to some of the greatest h
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published by William Morrow (first published July 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Alger
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is an admirable attempt to resurrect the memory of a remarkable figure on the global stage; a man who was born with the wrong color skin in a society that judged everything by race. His escape from Jim Crow racists is the singular fact that propelled him on a career that took him into the circles of two imperial courts, earned and lost him several fortunes, and put him in the cockpit of two wars and a revolution.
The facts of Jimmy Winkfield's life are astonishing and fascinating, but
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Bonnie
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Black Maestro is the story of Jimmy Winkfield, one of the great African American jockeys in Thoroughbred racing. He won back-to-back Kentucky Derbies, in 1901 and 1902, one of only four jockeys in over 130 years to do so, but his Derby wins are only a tiny portion of his complicated and epic life. What he went through as a black man in post-Civil War and pre-Civil Rights America, though certainly not uncommon or unknown, was shocking just the same. When the black jockeys were more or less run ou ...more
David Hamilton
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography of Jimmy Winkfield, a black jockey. Winkfield was the last black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, a feat he accomplished back-to-back in 1901 and 1902. The book details his early days in the southern United States, his experience as a jockey and his travels in Europe around the first and second world wars. In my opinion, the book focuses too much on the “black” experience and ignores the fact that Jimmy was every bit as clueless to the misery of others around him, including ...more
Alix Stricklin
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I learned more about pre-war U.S. and Europe during the Russian Revolution era and WWII, from a personal level, than I have from many history books combined. I must admit that the chapter about moving the horses from Russia left me weeping in my office - at work. I love horses, but what was so moving were the men who moved them. They lost their lives, in sense, but not themselves. This is a very readable and very powerful book. I highly recommend it.
Sandy
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Well written - of course - Drape's a JOURNALIST! Sorry that Jimmy Winkfield's place in American racing was usurped by the Scotch Irish riders. But did they get to rub elbows with Nicholas II?? Loved the WW1 connection as much as Jimmy's story. Also, interesting how much more we expect of fathers now than we did 100 years ago. Although biographical, this one makes you ponder a host of other issues.
Nathan
Nov 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Not "epic" in any way at all. The one interesting facet of this story is the fact that Jimmy Winkfield was a black jockey at a time when such a thing was rare and controversial. But even that is not explored with any interest at all. No feel for the sport is given. No character is memorable or even likable. I don't thInk one single line of prose made an impression on me. It wasn't even a spectacular failure, it was just incredibly boring. I will not remember this book beyond tomorrow.
Sandi
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, read-2011
I'll admit that I had never heard of Jimmy Winkfield, the last African-American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, until I came across this book. Intensely researched, this books provides the definitive story of the talented jockey who led an extraordinary life.
Mary
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched and a very interesting story of a complicated man who became a top American jockey and then a top European jockey. The writing was good but workmanlike--which is why I gave it only 4 stars.
Goatville9
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
solid read
Tim
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A gripping history of the golden era of horse racing, featuring the storied life of Jimmy Winkfield.
Erikjulieliam
Sep 17, 2009 rated it liked it
An amazing non-fiction account of an extroardinary African-American man who found a way to defy the color barriers of his age.
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Joe Drape is a reporter for The New York Times and the author of the New York Times Best Seller Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen. He also is the author of The Race for the Triple Crown and Black Maestro. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, he previously worked for The Dallas Morning News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When he doesn’t live in Kan ...more
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