From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion, the remarkable story of the heroic rescue of priceless horses in the closing days of World War II.
In the chaotic last days of the war, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find - his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world's finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine - an equine master race. But with the starving Russian army closing in, the animals are in imminent danger of being slaughtered for food.
With only hours to spare, one of the army's last great cavalrymen, American colonel Hank Reed, makes a bold decision - with General George Patton's blessing - to mount a covert rescue operation. Racing against time, Reed's small but determined force of soldiers, aided by several turncoat Germans, steals across enemy lines in a last-ditch effort to save the horses.
Pulling together this multistranded story, Elizabeth Letts introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters: Alois Podhajsky, director of the famed Spanish Riding School of Vienna, a former Olympic medalist who is forced to flee the bomb-ravaged Austrian capital with his entire stable in tow; Gustav Rau, Hitler's imperious chief of horse breeding, a proponent of eugenics who dreams of genetically engineering the perfect warhorse for Germany; and Tom Stewart, a senator's son who makes a daring moonlight ride on a white stallion to secure the farm's surrender.
A compelling account for animal lovers and World War II buffs alike, The Perfect Horse tells for the first time the full story of these events. Elizabeth Letts' exhilarating tale of behind-enemy-lines adventure, courage, and sacrifice brings to life one of the most inspiring chapters in the annals of human valor.
©2016 Elizabeth Letts (P)2016 Random House Audio
"[Elizabeth] Letts, a lifelong equestrienne, eloquently brings together the many facets of this unlikely, poignant story underscoring the love and respect of man for horses.... The author's elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Straight out of the cauldron of Nazi brutality and war, Elizabeth Letts weaves not just a page-turner but an achingly glorious story of grace and redemption. She embeds us with an international ensemble cast of battle-toughened soldiers. It is through their eyes, and through Letts's nearly supernatural horse sense, that we fall in love with sensitive Lipizzaner and fine-boned Arabians - the rescued animals who inspired men to reclaim their humanity." ( Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company)
"In the early years of World War II, the finest purebred horses in Nazi-occupied Europe were stolen by the Germans for experiments to develop the perfect horse. In this spellbinding, heart-stopping book, Elizabeth Letts does full justice to the extraordinary drama of the horses' rescue in the war's chaotic final days." (Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London)
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I was really worried when I saw that Paul Boehmer was narrating this as his tone and delivery in past books had me thinking the man was just plain odd. But I was surprised, relieved, delighted when I listened to "The Perfect Horse." He did just fine, obviously enjoyed the story, was familiar with the text, and delivered the characters, humans and horses alike, with love and sincerity.
This is not only the story of the rescue and escape of the horses. This isn't, "The Monuments Men... with Horses." It starts earlier, follows the players far into the aftermath of the war.
And it ain't all wine and roses once the shooting's over.
The story is one of heroism, tragedy, sacrifice. There are air raids, bombed out cattle cars of horses and refugees, starvation, brutality. There is neglect, lack of oversight, more suffering during peace time. But mostly, there is friendship and honest devotion.
Sometimes the writing is so elegant that you're not quite immersed in the action, and sometimes Letts chooses to say simply, "There was a faux firefight," rather than write the action, which could have been riveting, or funny. Still, that's a minor, minor flaw in the writing. Other than that, it's quite good. There is one horse in particular, that you'll fall in love with.
While there is a bit of drag leading to the closing act, imagine this. While I walked in the middle of a wretched heat-drenched Central Texas summer, listening to what happened to all the people, places, horses?
I got chills. It was mesmerizing. It was delicious.
Oh wow ! Such filler. So boring. Not well written . Tangents that veer off topic for chapters at a time. Ugh ...I have four hours left to go, I can't do it. (Won't know how this story ends and don't care anymore) Definitely won't be reading any other works by this author. Life is too short!
Can't say I'm a fan of the narrator in this particular book either. His pronunciation and cadence are odd to my west coast ears.
Not a total bust though, the production quality is great.
well researched historical novel that appears to focus on saving the horses of the Spanish Riding School. Unfortunately, the author becomes side tracked on the Polish Arabian especially the story of Witez.
In doing so the book becomes labored and slow. The story of the Polish Arabian"s survival if WW2 would be better as an entirely different undertaking.
The long, somewhat unfocused text combined with the slow overly melodramatic narration makes this audible book a bit ponderous.
However, it is still an excellent informative narrative that sets the record straight as opposed to the Disney version. Though, in honesty, Patton was such a beloved war hero that the Disney version was readily accepted by the American public, giving many their first knowledge of this renowned equestrian legend.
former Hawaii resident
The narration was excellent! I highly recommend this book. As a dressage rider and horse owner I was especially interested in this amazing story.
I loved the story. I am an avid equestrian and for years I have wanted to know the details of how Patton's men saved the Lipizzaners during WWII. The story is fascinating and the writing has moments of true beauty. The author weaves disparate strands of seemingly unrelated topics into a tapestry that contains rich elements of setting and characterization. The reader begins to understand the art of classical riding, social Darwinism as applied by the Third Reich, and even the complexities of horse breeding.
The narrator, on the other hand, so faithfully reproduces German pronunciation of words that at times it sounded like the SNL spoof of news anchorpersons saying Spanish place names like a native.
My favorite audible book so far....I want to purchase the actual book for my large equine book library. I am reminded how lucky I am to have housing and food. My dad is buried at Fort Riley and brought back memories of the military base. I had a hard time pausing the book to go to sleep and then to work. Highly recommend to lovers of animals and history.
Really loved tiger story, unbelievable what all the different people did to save the horses. only wish more of them would have gotten new homes in America
"Fascinating but an emotional storm."
I put off listening to The Perfect Horse for a few months as I wasn't sure I could cope with it. (Other horse owners will understand!) This is one of the most engaging books I've ever read/listened to and I've seldom come across such a powerful narrative of the extreme feats of endurance demanded of the Arab breeding stock.
This was emotionally heavy going but well balanced between the horrors of war and the beauty of human compassion towards the horses. Thoroughly well researched, it is an eye opening perspective of life and politics during and after the war from both sides.
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