The Way We Were

World War II is ancient history to anyone under the age of 40. For my generation, however, the aftermath of that war marked us in our childhood. Too young to understand how greatly our country changed during the 1950s, we simply grew into the morphing culture, considering it “normal” — as do all children in every generation. The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation illuminates one facet of that time and place. Show jumping was an aristocratic hobby for equestrians of that era. Nevertheless, a war refugee from Holland and an injured plow horse taught a generation of horse lovers that miracles are possible.

Harry de Leyer struggled to provide for his family while following his dream of showing his own jumper in the ring. Snowman didn’t know that he shouldn’t jump fences higher than he could see over; he just loved to jump. The man and the horse became partners in an amazing series of events that became legend and a parable for all the possibilities of the 1950s.

Elizabeth Letts gets high marks for writing a memorable nonfiction book. It contains all the parts of a good story: interesting characters, plot twists, drama and suspense. Ms. Letts writing respects the reader who is a novice to the horse show culture without sacrificing the texture of the show horse world. I highly recommend The Eighty-Dollar Champion. It’s a well-written, fascinating story that also explains some of the roots of the baby-boomer generation.

Well done, Ms. Letts. Only a few authors can successfully write on more than one level as you have done with The Eighty-Dollar Champion.

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