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 manage 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.
About the Author
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. In 2016, she won the Sophie Coe Prize, which is awarded for writing on food history.
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 ecole, 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 *
Forrest's account takes us at pace through centuries and time zones... She has trotted, galloped and flown across the globe - the Far East, the Midwest, through Europe and back again. Where she goes, whatever she finds, there always seem to be more horse tales just over the horizon... Each chapter in this enthusiastic trek is packed with arresting movements and details... Powerful, passionate -- Fiona Stafford * Sunday Times *
A richly informative, lively and elegantly written overview of the horse in human culture and history... Anyone with even the slightest interest in horses and their past, present and future as human companions, allies or victims should be sure to read it and learn from it. -- Peter Mitchell, Fellow in Archaeology, University of Oxford
No animal more deserves a rigorous and deep investigation of its place in human life, and no one is better positioned to provide it than Susanna Forrest. She approaches her subject with both love and lucidity, with a sharp awareness of the limits of what we can know about horses. -- Justin E. H. Smith, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Paris
The Age of the Horse surprises and delights at every turn. This thoroughly and imaginatively researched, beautifully written book takes us to new destinations and offers new stories from the frontlines of horse-human sociality. -- Donna Landry, professor of English and American literature, University of Kent
A very detailed, well-researched history of the evolution, domestication, and usage of horses throughout the ages and in different geographic areas. Susanna Forrest travelled the globe to learn about the practices of the past - including the horse at work and in war and religion - and about how people look upon horses today. -- Robert Sommer, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Davis
The Age of the Horse takes horses seriously in their multiplicity, in all the different ways they have been and are a part of our lives . . . This is rigorously researched, but accessible. Through the common history of humans and equids, it is a tribute to the adaptability of both species. -- Robin Irvine, University of St Andrews
Susanna Forrest tells the complete story of the horse, from the Mongolian steppes to Victorian coaches and Amish farms, in a book filled with vivid anecdotes and big ideas. -- Boria Sax, author of CITY OF RAVENS
Many a horse lover would prefer to spend their entire day on the trail or at the race track, with no other human to taint the majesty of the experience. Susanna Forrest goes even further, delivering all of history with a sharp equine focus. Through her fascinating delving she creates a magical world where these exquisite creatures reign supreme. -- Elizabeth Mitchell, author of THREE STRIDES BEFORE THE WIRE and LIBERTY'S TORCH
The illustrations are beautiful, the facts astonishing * Mail on Sunday *
In charting the evolution of the horse, Forrest covers wide sweeps of history and geography with dexterity and panache... The Age of the Horse is full of facts and rich anecdote -- Robin Oakley * Literary Review *
Fascinating... Like a day in the field on your best horse, this book diverts and educates in equal measure. * The Field *
With grace, erudition, and keen insight, Susanna Forrest explores our fraught and glorious relationship with the horse. From its early days as a partner on the steppes to its role in latter-day wars, Susanna reveals many surprises on the trail, concluding that the survival of humans and horses lies "in a sympathy that is separate but locked together". Such an observation could not come at a more critical time - and it is one that we all should heed. -- Deanne Stillman, author of MUSTANG
Susanna Forrest is the ideal guide for exploring the ancient bond between horses and humans. Deeply personal and impressively researched, The Age of the Horse is a moving tribute an awesome example of interspecies rapport. -- Adrienne Mayor, author of THE AMAZONS
Forrest brings her eye for detail and story-telling abilities to to an extensively researched, fascinating history... Her passion for the horse leaps from the pages of a book that is a rich fount of knowledge for anyone interested in the innumerable and endlessly fascinating points where horse and human meet. -- Candida Baker * TLS *