Cover: Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack, from Harvard University PressCover: Race Horse Men in HARDCOVER

Race Horse Men

How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$35.00 • £25.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674281424

Publication: May 2014

Trade

336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

12 halftones

World

Katherine Mooney’s enthralling account of an all-but-forgotten population of elite slaves in the American South reads like a novel. Race Horse Men is both the story of 19th century thoroughbred racing—‘America’s first mass-audience sport’—and a detailed portrait of the expert equestrian slaves and free black horsemen upon whose competence in the stables wealthy white ‘turfmen’ depended… Mooney makes a strong case for why these forgotten histories continue to illuminate systems of inequality to this day.—Thomas Chatterton Williams, The San Francisco Chronicle

Mooney’s book draws on the stories and memoirs of a range of figures across racing, as the sport became simultaneously a Southern specialty and an object of popular fascination. Race Horse Men is stitched out of these portraits, many of which are wonderfully effective in revealing just how ambiguous, for example, the situation of enslaved grooms, trainers, jockeys, and breeding-shed managers could be… Mooney’s book is at its strongest when it peers not into the clubhouse but out into the stables… She positions her history to thread together a large chunk of time, when racing carried the burden of chattel slavery and civil war.—Eric Banks, The Chronicle of Higher Education

It is that history—of rich white men, enslaved black men, and the birth of American horse racing—that Katherine C. Mooney tells in Race Horse Men. Scholarly yet accessible, the book argues that far from subverting the racist notions of the slave-holding South, black horsemen were seen as ‘the perfect slaves, precisely calibrated extensions of a master’s will’ and ‘central figures in turfmen’s vision of the harmony of a slave society.’—Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe

Black men were active in 19th-century racing, most prominent in the South, as jockeys, grooms, and trainers for this first large spectator sport in the United States… But Mooney shows how white resentment of black presence and success at the race track increased. Whites feared that the example of success that these race-horse men set would incite other blacks to demand more rights and become violent. With the rise of Jim Crow in the South, blacks were driven out of the sport.—Patsy Gray, Library Journal

Writing with exceptional polish and élan, Katherine Mooney succeeds brilliantly at restoring humanity to black jockeys and trainers. This superb book says as much about the cruelties and distortions wrought by racism in nineteenth-century America as any single book can.—W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory

Katherine Mooney leads us inside the paddock and beyond the finish line to reveal how horse racing shaped American society and molded race relations. In doing so, she brings to life the struggles of numerous individuals long lost to history. The result is an eye-opening and important book.—Louis P. Masur, author of Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union

Katherine Mooney gives us a vivid, pioneering study of the horse-racing world, a mainstay of nineteenth-century American and Southern culture. Her portrayal of the lives of black jockeys is a revelation. She uses sporting drama to illuminate the interplay between callousness and selective personal affection that pervaded white attitudes toward blacks.—Melvin Patrick Ely, author of Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War