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Comments for Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit — A Geography Lesson: 10/22/04

I'm currently reading Seabiscuit: An American Legend and while I am thoroughly enjoying it, I feel sorry for readers who are not familiar with the Bay Area. Hillenbrand in her enthusiasm to tell the story of Charles Howard and of course Seabiscuit, she neglects accurately state the locations of events. Readers might come away thinking that all of the Bay Area events take place in San Francisco. They don't. (Note, these comments are only about the book. I have not seen the film).

For instance, in her description of the early days of the automobile in one sentence she combines San Franciscan's distrust of the automobile with Stanford's decision to close the center of campus to cars. Stanford is 40 miles south of San Francisco and is still mostly closed to cars. It's a beautiful campus for bike riding and walking.

Later when she describes the beginning of modern day horse racing she mentions two "San Francisco" race tracks: Tanforan and Golden Gate Fields. While both are accessible from San Francisco (now via BART) neither is in "The City." Tanforan (now a shopping mall) is in San Bruno and Golden Gate Meadows is across the Bay in Albany.

Of course Hillenbrand is not the only author to blend all the outlying cities into a giant San Francisco metropolis. I've lost track of how many times I've seen Sausalito described as a coastal neighborhood of San Francisco. Just for the record, it's a short drive north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge.


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