Saturday, July 13, 2013


Battleship by Dorothy Ours
3/5 stars
St. Martin's Press, 2013
276 pages
Adult History Non-Fiction

Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

This book first got my attention when I saw it featured by the publisher on Netgalley; unfortunately my copy expired before I got to it so I was pleased to see it for offer on Amazon Vine, giving me another chance to check out what seemed to be billed as a very gripping read. While it was not to my taste, I think there will be fans of the story.

I've always heard that little girls love horses but maybe there was something wrong with me because I never got it. Horses are big and smelly and I had less than zero interest in them. Instead I was interested in this book because of the billing of a daring heiress (Marion duPont), teenage jockey (Bruce Hobbs), an American horse (the titular Battleship), and the converging paths of all the people necessary to make a racing legend like Battleship.

The conclusion to this book with that final race that made his name was very exciting. It shows clearly all the hard work and time invested that was necessary to reach that point. However many of the passages before that bored me. There was so much information about horses and racing and I did not care nor did I need full recaps of all the races that even remotely related to the story. My expectation of this book was that it would be filled with engaging writing and be accessible to laymen and I don't feel like it met either of those.

I did enjoy the passages that focused more on the humans especially Marion's life of seemingly confirmed spinsterhood in an era that really condemned such a fate to two somewhat surprising marriages against her lifelong passion for horses. The jockey, Bruce's, story was also fascinating with his tough upbringing under his strict horse-mad trainer father that led to the very tall young man riding to victory on a comparatively small horse.

Overall: Not to my taste at all!

Note: As I read an ARC, it lacked footnotes or endnotes and pictures, both of which I hope are in the final product. I would love to see how Battleship stacked up next to the bigger horses mentioned over the course of the novel.


  1. I never read Seabiscuit or Secretariat but I enjoyed the movies. Sometimes I think it is more exciting to see the story in visual form rather than read the book especially when it comes to horse racing :)

    I loved horses when I was a kid (though they also scared me a little because of their size and my fear of falling off) but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed a book like this. If they make it into a movie, maybe I'll watch it instead...

  2. Yeah, I think I'd try Seabiscuit before this one.

  3. Thank you for taking the time to read and review "Battleship." I respect your thoughts -- and I'm tickled that, even though overall it wasn't your kind of book, you wanted to see how small Battleship was, compared with the other racehorses. Can do! There is a photo section in the finished book (20 black and white pictures), but his size shows up best in newsreel. (Warning: racing film shows some horses and riders falling. I hate that part and know others do, too. In Battleship's Grand National, the fallers fortunately were not injured -- but, tragically, one horse died from heart failure [not shown in newsreel].) Here's a link:

    You can get a good look at Battleship at these points:

    :38 - Bruce gets a leg up on Battleship (#5); then you see them walking past the stands, onto the course

    3:03 - little Battleship leads Royal Danieli (2nd place) and Workman (3rd place)

    about 3:10 - big Royal Danieli gallops up beside Battleship, and for several seconds you can see how RD makes Battleship look pony-sized

    3:48 - Royal Danieli (nearer to camera) almost hides Battleship from view

    4:08 - Battleship with police escort (the two police horses, much taller than he, are about the same height as Battleship’s racing opponents)

  4. Great you could check this one out, but sorry it ended up not being what you'd hoped. I'm not a horse person either...though my sister is, as she's actually ridden them. I have not; scares me too much! haha


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