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Man has always been fascinated by Equus caballus, recasting horse power into many forms: a hunk of meat, an industrial and agricultural machine, a luxury good, a cherished dancer, a comrade in arms and a symbol of a mythical past. From the wild tarpans sought by the Nazis to jade-laden treasure steeds in Ancient China, broken-down nags recycled into sausages and furniture stuffing, stallions that face fighting bulls and brewery horses that charmed the founder of the Sikh Empire, The Age of the Horse knits the history of the horse into that of humans, through revolution, war, social change and uneasy peace. It also uncovers new roles for the horse in the twenty-first century as a tool in the fight against climate change and as a therapist for soldiers damaged in unwinnable conflicts.
In this captivating book, Susanna Forrest takes a journey through time and around the world, from the Mongolian steppes to a mirrored manege at Versailles, an elegant polo club in Beijing and a farm, a fort and an auction house in America, exploring the horse's crucial role and revealing how our culture and economy were generated, nourished and shaped by horse power and its gifts and limits.
Susanna Forrest lives in Berlin where she works as a writer and editor. She grew up in Norwich and later studied social anthropology at Cambridge.
"Susanna Forrest is the outstanding writer at the erudite end of horse madness [...] Forrest, a social anthropologist by training, heart truly pierced, has written a profound historical love story [...] Her book is original, cerebral and from the heart. Thinking jodhpur-wearers will love it."
– Melanie Reid, The Times
"From Xenophon to Hitler via Chinese polo and the battle of Waterloo, this extraordinary work demonstrates how much better world history looks with a horse in the foreground."
– Meg Rosoff
"Whether describing the splendours of the haute école, the miseries of the American horsemeat trade, or the horse-thronged streets of 19th century London, Forrest writes with a fine descriptive vigour. Her essayistic approach allows for an exhilarating blend of the historical and the personal, with lively digressions"
– Jane Shilling, Evening Standard