Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse: Man and Beast in an Age of Human Warfare
'When you touch a Lipizzaner,' Frank Westerman was told as a child, 'you are touching history.' In "Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse" 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, Westerman asks, if animal breeders are so good at genetic engineering, why do attempts to perfect the human strain always end in tragedy? "Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse", a 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.
Europe's twentieth-century history told through the incredible story of a horse: the Lipizzaner.
"When you touch a Lipizzaner, you're touching history," Westerman was once told. His elegant book offers fascinating proof" -- Carl Wilkinson Financial Times "Westerman's own unique process of hybridisation, his mix of travel writing and history, yet again proves a winner. enquiring and thoughtful" -- Lucy Scholes Independent "A masterpiece" De Standaard "Westerman's account of the Lipizzaners' remarkable survival makes stirring reading. His tales of research in secret archives and encounters with wartime veterans who helped with Operation Cowboy have the subterfuge and tension of a thriller" -- Jane Shilling Sunday Telegraph "A most charming book" -- Allan Mallinson The Times
Frank Westerman was born in 1964 and lived and worked in Moscow from 1997 to 2002 as correspondent for the leading Dutch NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Westerman is the author of five highly praised books. His work has been published in more than ten languages and has won many prizes.