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About the book
  • Published: 5 July 2012
  • ISBN: 9781409019329
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse

Man and beast in an age of human warfare

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' Financial Times

Frank Westerman explores the history of Lipizzaners, an extraordinary troop of pedigree horses bred as personal mounts for the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Following the bloodlines of the stud book, he reconstructs the story of four generations of imperial steed 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?

  • Pub date: 5 July 2012
  • ISBN: 9781409019329
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

About the Author

Frank Westerman

Frank Westerman was born in 1964 and lives in Amsterdam. He is the author of seven highly acclaimed books, including Ararat, Engineers of the Soul and, most recently, Brother Mendel’s Perfect Horse. His work has been published in more than fifteen languages and has won many prizes.

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Praise for Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse

“"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

“A most charming book”

Allan Mallinson, The Times

“A winner...enquiring and thoughtful”


“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


Caroline Moorehead, Literary Review

“Westerman offers a reflective account of man’s obsession with the prized Lipizzaner horse”

Sunday Telegraph

“Westerman’s tale, part historical journey, part travel tome, takes the reader across Europe to explore every avenue of the Lipizzaner’s eclectic history”

Good Book Guide

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