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The relationship between horses and humans is an ancient, profound and complex one. For millennia horses provided the strength and speed that humans lacked. How we travelled, farmed and fought was dictated by the needs of this extraordinary animal. And then, suddenly, in the 20th century the links were broken and the millions of horses that shared our existence almost vanished, eking out a marginal existence on race-tracks and pony clubs.
Farewell to the Horse is an engaging, brilliantly written and moving discussion of what horses once meant to us. Cities, farmland, entire industries were once shaped as much by the needs of horses as humans. The intervention of horses was fundamental in countless historical events. They were sculpted, painted, cherished, admired; they were thrashed, abused and exposed to terrible danger. From the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Empire every world-conqueror needed to be shown on a horse. Tolstoy once reckoned that he had cumulatively spent some nine years of his life on horseback.
Ulrich Raulff's book, a bestseller in Germany, is a superb monument to the endlessly various creature who has so often shared and shaped our fate.
Ulrich Raulff is Director of the German Literature Archive in Marbach am Neckar. Previously, he was Literary Editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Managing Editor of the Suddeutsche Zeitung. He has written books on Marc Bloch and Aby Warburg and won both the Anna Kruger Prize and the Ernst Robert Curtius Prize for Essay Writing. His book on the influence of the German poet Stefan George was awarded the 2010 Leipzig Book Fair Prize.
"Ulrich Raulff's magisterial Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship (Allen Lane) looks at the place of the horse in European history, culture and ecology. With the horse no longer playing an essential role in transport, warfare, food and sport, everything has changed: the city, the countryside, the horse, and ourselves. A bestseller in Raulff's native Germany, Farewell to the Horse is a moving epitaph to a one-sided and often brutal animal-human relationship that shaped the modern world."
– Matthew Cobb, New Scientist 3137, 5 August 2017
"A brilliant, entertaining tour-de-force"
– Die Zeit
"Amazing insights sweep through the book – an entrancing history packed with stories"
– Neue Zürcher Zeitung
"Great cultural history"
– Der Tagesspiegel
"A fabulous book"
– Uli Hufen
"Ulrich Raulff is a wonderful storyteller"
"An exciting and entertaining ride through various landscapes"
– Harry Nutt
"A beautiful and thoughtful exploration of the role of the horse in creating our world. It is shocking how recently we relied upon horses, and as this tale is told, shocking how fast we have moved away from our dependant working relationship with them. This fine history book tells the story of that relationship in its final century, and how horses still run through our culture in countless ways, distant echoes of the pact we long had with them. Farewell to the Horse is a grown-up, but also lyrical and creative, history book, and I very much enjoyed it. Some of the scenes in it will stay with me for a long time to come"
– James Rebanks