by Frank Westerman
Europe’s 20th-century history told through the incredible story of a horse, the Lipizzaner, in a sweeping story of falling empires, war, genetics, and purebred horses.
“When you touch a Lipizzaner,” Frank Westerman was told as a child, “you are touching history.” Here he explores the history of these unique creatures, an extraordinary troop of pedigree horses first bred as personal mounts for the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Following the bloodlines of the studbook, he reconstructs the story of four generations of imperial steeds as they survive the fall of the Habsburg Empire, two world wars, and the insane breeding experiments conducted under Hitler, Stalin, and Ceausescu. But what begins as a fairytale becomes a chronicle of the quest for racial purity. Carrying the reader across Europe, from imperial stables and stud farms to the controversial gene labs of today, this unique and engrossing fusion of history and travel writing is a modern fable in which the pure-blood horse ends up revealing man’s own shortcomings.