A gripping account of an underdog partnership that made racing history.



A woman and an anxious horse take the racing world by storm in Jagoda’s debut memoir.

Magna Terra Smoky was a frightened Arabian colt whose chances of becoming a winning racehorse seemed slim. However, despite his general mistrust of people, he went on to become a racing legend. The author’s memoir opens with her impulsive but life-changing decision to acquire the Colorado horse as a racing prospect in 1988. Neither of them had experience on the track, but Smoky still won his first race the next year. As the bond between the steed and the author grew, Smoky gained self-confidence that would drive his decadelong career. Refreshingly, this memoir isn’t a formulaic story of a horse and rider beating the odds. Unlike other, similar books, it doesn’t focus solely on the animal, and the author’s own story is just as compelling. Jagoda writes with a richness that makes the work read like a novel, building suspense and delivering unpredictable twists. The pair raced at top tracks from California to Delaware, often confronting entrenched politics and sexism. In 1990, the author says, racing officials underreported Smoky’s winnings, which robbed him of his right to the prestigious Darley Award. Readers also learn the toll that the racing industry can take on one’s personal relationships, financial stability, and health. After the author had two accidents involving other horses, which resulted in two broken arms, Jagoda persuaded a friend to saw off one cast so that she could keep training Smoky. At one point, she helped the horse heal from life-threatening injuries—one of which left the animal disfigured and disadvantaged as a racehorse. Still, Smoky retired with 50 wins in 120 starts, and in 100 of them, he placed in the top three—including his final race. Crowned the “richest racing Arabian of all time” in 1994, Smoky was inducted into the Arabian racing hall of fame. Black-and-white snapshots, letters, and old news clippings lend a homespun sweetness to a book that will appeal to young readers and adults. Hollywood, if you’re listening: This could possibly be the next Eighty-Dollar Champion.

A gripping account of an underdog partnership that made racing history.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4907-9185-2

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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