Each year on the first Saturday in May, the world turns its attention to the twin spires of Churchill Downs for the high-stakes excitement of the "greatest two minutes in sports," the Kentucky Derby. No American sporting event can claim the history, tradition, or pageantry that the Kentucky Derby holds. For more than 130 years, spectators have been fascinated by the magnificent horses that run the Louisville track. Thoroughbreds such as Secretariat and Barbaro have earned instant international fame, along with jockeys such as Isaac Murphy, Ron Turcotte, and Calvin Borel. The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event calls this great tradition to post and illuminates its history and culture.
Rising from its humble beginnings as an American variation of England's Epsom Derby, the Kentucky Derby became a centerpiece of American sports and the racing industry, confirming Kentucky's status as the Horse Capital of the World. James C. Nicholson argues that the Derby, at its essence, is a celebration of a place, existing as a connection between Kentucky's mythic past and modern society. The Derby is more than just a horse race -- it is an experience enhanced by familiar traditions, icons, and images that help Derby fans to understand Kentucky and define themselves as Americans. Today the Kentucky Derby continues to attract international attention from royalty, celebrities, racing fans, and those who simply enjoy an icy mint julep, a fabulous hat, and a wager on who will make it to the winner's circle.
Nicholson provides an intriguing and thorough history of the Kentucky Derby, examining the tradition, spectacle, culture, and evolution of the Kentucky Derby -- the brightest jewel of the Triple Crown.
|Publisher:||University Press of Kentucky|
|Product dimensions:||6.36(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.96(d)|
About the Author
James C. Nicholson recently received a PhD in history from the University of Kentucky.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
Foreword Chris McCarron xiii
Introduction: The Unique Identity of Kentucky and Its Derby 1
1 Early Struggles and Foundations for Success: 1875-1910 9
2 The "Southern" Path to National Prominence: 1910-1930 47
3 Conflict at the Derby in the Great Depression: 1930-1940 83
4 An American Institution: 1940-1960 113
5 A Stage for Social Protest and a Site of National Healing: 1960-1980 143
6 Globalization and the American Dream: 1980-2010 177
Selected Bibliography 249
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Too often, we don¿t know the history of an event that we are extremely familiar with. The Kentucky Derby is an annual event enjoyed across the country the first Saturday of each May. People from every walk of life, every economic level, and every race enjoy the tradition and excitement. The development of the event and the role it has played in American is largely forgotten. James C. Nicholson dives into the heart of the traditional horse racing event in his book, The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America¿s Premier Sporting Event.Tracing the history of the derby to England, Nicholson explores the birth of the Kentucky Derby and the world it was born into. From the 1800s through 2010, the book does more than recite the history of the national event but also the culture of the world around it and how it influenced that world. Nicholson explores the social issues that were addressed throughout the history of the Derby and the major players who became a part of the tradition.Too many history books can be dry with a slow pace to the reading. Nicholson does not fall into this rut as he moves over two centuries of horse history. He does not repeat himself needlessly and brings in enough peripheral history to keep the story lively and colorful.Nicholson¿s writing is easy to follow. It is entertaining and educational. The pictures that accompany the text help bring it to life and make the history real.This book was especially special to me as I am from Kentucky and the Derby has been a part of my entire life. So much of the history that was mentioned in the book is a part of my own history being descendent from a coal miner, tobacco farmer, and World War II veteran. I read parts of the book aloud to my mother who remembered so much of the history. It brought back a lot of memories.The book has an extensive bibliography and notes section. The book is not too long at just under 300 pages. The book I read and reviewed was a proof copy so that number could change at the final printing.This is wonderful book for history enthusiasts, Kentucky Derby fans, Kentuckians, horse breeders, and anyone just interested in the book. Though the book might be too much for a ten year old, if they love horses they would still find it enjoyable. My ten year old daughter loved it.Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review.
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