The Racehorse Who Became a Marine Corps Hero

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780451466501
  • 320 Pages
  • NAL
  • Adult


“Tom Clavin’s Reckless reads like a wonderful and inspiring combination of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken.”—Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

From the racetracks of Seoul to the battlegrounds of the Korean War, Reckless was a horse whose strength, tenacity, and relentless spirit made her a hero amongst a regiment of U.S. Marines fighting for their lives on the front lines.

Her Korean name was Ah-Chim-Hai—Flame-of-the-Morning. A four-year-old chestnut-colored Mongolian racehorse with a white blaze down her face and three white stockings, she once amazed the crowds in Seoul with her remarkable speed. But when war shut down the tracks, the star racer was soon sold to an American Marine and trained to carry heavy loads of artillery shells up and down steep hills under a barrage of bullets and bombs. The Marines renamed her Reckless.

Reckless soon proved fearless under fire, boldly marching alone through the fiery gauntlet, exposed to explosions and shrapnel. For months, her drive and determination kept the Marines’ guns blazing, while inspiring them with her singular charm. During one day of battle alone, she made fifty-one trips up and down a crucial hill, covering at least thirty-five miles in the heat of combat. On some of her uphill treks, Reckless shielded human reinforcements. The Chinese, soon discovering the unique bravery of this magnificent animal, made a special effort to kill her. But Reckless never slowed. As months passed and the enemy grew bolder, the men came to appreciate her not just as a horse but as a weapon, and eventually, as a fellow Marine.

In Reckless, Tom Clavin, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Heart of Everything That Is, tells the unlikely story of a racehorse who truly became a war hero, beloved by the Marine Corps and decorated for bravery. A moving reminder of the unbreakable bond between people and animals, Reckless is a powerful tale of courage, survival, and even love in the face of overwhelming odds.


“Tom Clavin’s Reckless reads like a wonderful and inspiring combination of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken. The star of this book might be a Mongolian mare, but she was an American war hero, and her amazing story deserves to be told, which Clavin so ably does. This would make a hell of a movie.”—Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Quest
“War can often make unlikely heroes, and in this book Tom Clavin introduces us to the unlikeliest hero of all. Reckless is an inspiring tale of courage and endurance by a brave horse who unflinchingly risked death to help the men she loved, winning for herself a role in Marine Corps history.”—Larry Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Biggest Brother and co-author of A Higher Call
“Who ever thought such a story could exist? A heroic horse fighting with the Marines in the Korean War? But it emphatically does. It is dramatic and poignant—both the human and the equine parts—and comes completely alive in Tom Clavin’s narrative.”—S.C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon

“Within the relentless account of the bravery of many men, the featured character is a Mongolian racehorse, recruited to carry the heavy ammunition for a recoilless rifle platoon…. Reckless certainly possessed fortitude; what she did one day in 1953 was remarkable. Under heavy enemy fire, she made countless trips up steep terrain carrying heavy shells to supply her platoon. On the way back, she often carried the wounded to safety. It was estimated that she carried more than four tons of ammunition in trips covering more than 30 miles, mostly alone, without guidance or prompting. The fame of the stalwart horse, who gave added resonance to the idea of Semper Fi, grew both within the Corps and among the folks at home…. a blood-soaked war story about a courageous horse.”—Kirkus
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