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From the Publisher
“The author views horse racing from numerous perspectives, and in so doing he reveals a number of fascinating struggles, both on the track and off. His penetrating examination of the people who bet on horses challenges the stereotypes held by those who have read only Damon Runyan and can’t tell a furlong from a gelding. He describes the elaborate and ritualized efforts of horse players to see themselves as cool, rational, and conservative, while wagering on the outcome of events that are partly athletic contests and partly carefully contrived theatrical spectacles, with various kinds of licit and illicit business enterprises entertwined. . . . [T]his book is valuable for its description of some social behavior which most sociologists will never otherwise know. . . . [R]eading it is a pleasure.”
—Wm. Bruce Cameron, Social Forces
“Some fifteen years of personal and familiar contact with almost every aspect of horse racing combined with three years of systematic participant-observation furnished the basic data. The outcome of this effort is an eminently readable and detailed study. . . . [I]t is a book to be read with interest by the social scientist, with discomfort by the horsemen, with trepidation by the horseplayer, but surely with some degree of fascination by all.”
—Irving Kenneth Zola, American Sociological Review
"...when he was teaching at Berkeley, Goffman asked me to come to his seminar to hear a student, Marvin Scott, present his research on horse racing. ...in the course of his presentation, Scott suggested in passing that gamblers, including horse players, sometimes had æwinning streaks' or ælosing streaks.' Goffman, who had been listening appreciatively until that point, interrupted to say that of course Scott meant that they thought they had such streaks of good or bad luck. But Scott said no, these were observable æfacts.' Goffman, unwilling to accept such supernatural talk, persisted, appealing to the laws of probability to assure Scott that such æstreaks' were natural occurrences in any long run of tries in such a game as blackjack or craps."