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The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey through Human History by [Forrest, Susanna]
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The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey through Human History Kindle Edition

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Length: 432 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled
Language: English
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Product Description

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 manège 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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10311 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (6 October 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #176,972 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.9 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come For The Horses, Stay For The Writing 19 June 2017
By wardtex - Published on
Verified Purchase
First, I knew Ms. Forrest when I lived in Berlin, so I'm quite aware of her obsession with horses, as memorably explored in her previous book, If Wishes Were Horses. On her part, she's aware that my interest in horses extends to the racetrack, and very little further. But that makes for a perfect author/reader relationship here: I'm not all that fascinated with horses, but I devoured this book nonetheless: it's that good. Part travelogue (she goes to Mongolia to see ancient breed of horses and explore a horse-centric people), part history (how *did* we domesticate these huge beasts?) and part journalism (she observes an equestrian ballet master, a farm that uses horses as agricultural machines), it is driven throughout by a clear and vivid prose style. Her little vignette of an imaginary 19th century London gentleman's day in the Power chapter shows how his life is affected directly and indirectly by the services of horses is nothing short of brilliant. When I put the book down, I tried to figure out whose writing it reminded me of, and finally the answer came: a young John McPhee, a writer I know we both admire greatly. This being the case, I would love to see her write about something other than horses eventually, because writing this good is a skill few practice these days. So why the missing star? Well, I'm *still* not all that fascinated with horses. But I know who I'll turn to should that change.
3.0 out of 5 stars Very dense reading. If reading it as a reference ... 21 July 2017
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Verified Purchase
Very dense reading. If reading it as a reference book, I was hoping for more on history/archaeology/paleontology of the horse and its near cousins. Failing that, I would have wanted a livelier narrative voice.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather spend time with an actual horse 23 April 2017
By Jehoshephat - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love horses, and grew up riding them. But I couldn't read this book. I found it as wanting to be some sort of impressionistic diorama, if that's not a contradiction in terms. Lots of emoting, lots of self-indulgent prose which seems to be constantly looking at itself, lots of skipping around among focuses, historical eras (including the present) and geographical locations, for my money too much of the author interpolating herself between the horse(s) and the reader. There are obviously folks who respond well to this kind of approach, and they may well find the book fascinating and even moving. (I know that sounds snarky, but don't mean it that way.) But I like horses as they are, not romantic stories woven around them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horses and people: culture, horses and industry, show horses, horses as expressions of wealth, as food, and more. 15 May 2017
By lyndonbrecht - Published on
Wasn't sure whether four or five stars was appropriate here; I decided on five because the writing is generally good and there is a large amount of information. The title is somewhat misleading, because it is not a history of the age of the horse, but rather a personal exploration of a number of topics related to horses, and people. The sections are a bit uneven, a couple are exceptional and one that seems just added on at the end.

It starts out with the tarpan and takhi, famed wild equines, including Nazi German interest in breeding back to the extinct tarpan (it fits in a way, with eugenics). Part of this section, and the best is her visit to Mongolia. The next section looks at culture and horses, including Xenophon's comments on horses, Louis XV's stables at Versailles, and performing horses. It includes a fairly extensive section on performing horses in works created by the French performance artist Bartabas (it's not exactly performance art but that's the closest term I can think of).

Chapter 3 is I think the best in the book, on horses used as power, including coach horses, dray -,horses, horses powering machinery and more. By 1871 in the UK there were as many city horses as there were in the country, and by 1901, city horses outnumbered farm horses two to one--so the focus on "power" is partly in the industrializing city in the later 1800s. The section also looks at horse people such as grooms, drivers, dealers and others. Forrest also visits an Amish area to see how they still use horses, and a farm in new England which is bringing back horses as actually more efficient than machinery and far more ecologically sound.

Section 4 looks at horses as food. The question of why some nations don't eat horse and others do is intriguing. Much of the chapter though describes the market for broken down and unwanted horses in the US, sold and then transported to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico (it's currently not really legal to slaughter horses for food in the US). This is overall a sad and depressing section. The 5th section looks at horses as symbols of wealth, in particular in China.

The 6th section asks "Are Horses Warriors" and examines the question in a roundabout way. This discusses aspects of training. It also includes a lot of the use of horses in treating American vets who have PTSD. It's an interesting section, but a bit more on the vets than on the therapy horses. This could have been edited a bit better, I think.

There's a section of illustrations that are quite good and help the book make its points. The overall style is less history than literary journalism, reminding me a little of John McPhee's books. There's lots of information embedded in a personal exploration that features interviews, participation and observation.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars 29 May 2017
By Kilian85710 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Thanks to Netgalley for ARC

It is difficult to review this book. It would be easier if it were a rant or a rave. Instead it's just 'meh.' The author looks at six uses of the horse from the dancing horses of the haute ecole to the draft horses that are making a comeback in agriculture. There is no unifying thesis to bind these disparete articles into a whole. Instead they read like magazine articles published at various times.

If you know a young person who is horse mad and not very critical, this book might make a nice gift.