A unique blend of horse racing, history, and good old-fashioned storytelling, The Great Match Race provides a telling glimpse of a nation dividing, a fascinating look at the early heritage of the American thoroughbred,and the first example of the sports spectacle as we know it.


It may be a difference of opinions that makes horse races but there is a fundamental cultural difference between industrial and agrarian, between town and country and between urban and frontier that divided the north from the south then and divides the east from the west today. This is very good anecdotal history but the message is far deeper than who feeds their horse on hay and beans.

The Great Match Race : When North Met South in America’s First Sports Spectacle  Eisenberg, John Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006  Horse racing United States History Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 258 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 244-247) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

In the early 1800s, the notion of sport was still quite new to America – that is, until a horse race changed everything. In 1823 an astonishing sixty thousand people gathered on Long Island to watch two thoroughbreds battle it out in three grueling heats, the equivalent of nine Kentucky Derbys, in the space of only a couple of hours. And the whole thing was based on an outrageous dare.

In a fast-paced narrative – colorful, rich, and full of record-setting performances and towering personalities – John Eisenberg chronicles the tremendous story of the year in which two horses would come to embody a nation galloping inevitably toward civil war. Eclipse was the majestic champion representing the North’s evolving industrial machine, and Henry was an equine arriviste embodying Southern perceptions of superiority. Their thrilling match race would come to represent a watershed moment in American history, crystallizing the differences that so fundamentally divided North and South.

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