Farewell to the Horse: A Cultural History (Hardcover)
A surprising, lively, and erudite history of horse and man, for readers of The Invention of Nature and The Soul of an Octopus.
Horses and humans share an ancient, profoundly complex relationship. Once our most indispensable companions, horses were for millennia essential in helping build our cities, farms, and industries. But during the twentieth century, in an increasingly mechanized society, they began to disappear from human history. In this esoteric and rich tribute, award-winning historian Ulrich Raulff chronicles the dramatic story of this most spectacular creature, thoroughly examining how they’ve been muses and brothers in arms, neglected and sacrificed in war yet memorialized in paintings, sculpture, and novels—and ultimately marginalized on racetracks and in pony clubs. Elegiac and absorbing, Farewell to the Horse paints a stunning panorama of a world shaped by hooves, and the imprint left on humankind.
“A beautiful and thoughtful exploration. . . . Farewell to the Horse is a grown-up, but also lyrical and creative, history book, and I very much enjoyed it.”— James Rebanks, author of the New York Times bestseller The Shepherd’s Life
Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a literary translator of Arabic, German, and Russian into English.
— Gregory Curtis - Wall Street Journal
In Farewell to the Horse, Ulrich Raulff has composed nothing less than a requiem Mass for this long-suffering, noble creature — a complex and lyrical argument that places the horse in a central role in the creation of the modern world. In his excavations of the 150-year period that makes up this long farewell, the author discovered something marvelous: ‘Horses had more meanings than bones.’. . . Raulff has given us an eloquent epitaph for the horse’s long relevance to our world.
— Melissa Holbrook Pierson - Washington Post
Strange and fascinating. . . . A sweeping cultural history, more kaleidoscopic than totale, as bibliographical as it is historical. . . . Farewell to the Horse is a whirlwind that seems capable of drawing into its vortex almost anyone who ever thought of a horse.
— Verlyn Klinkenborg - New York Review of Books
A beautiful and thoughtful exploration. . . . It is shocking how recently we relied upon horses, and as this tale is told, shocking how fast we have moved away from our dependent 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.
— James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd’s Life
As you pick up the reins
of this book—trying to get a sense of what sort of a ride it is to be—it
becomes evident within three paragraphs that you have never read a book like it.
. . . [Raulff] has an extraordinarily connective mind and it is seldom possible
to predict where he is going with it. . . . Beautifully and idiosyncratically
— The Guardian
thorough. . . . Raulff offers a look at a changing cultural landscape,
primarily in western Europe, with the horse as one of the primary casualties of
— Maggie Reagan - Booklist
Get ready for a wild ride! Operatic in scope, quirky in detail, Ulrich Raulff's magnificent book will sweep you off your feet, and carry you through centuries of art and literature, warfare and industry, all to the sound of the hoofbeats that made so much of human history possible. This is an important, passionate, surprising book. It shows just how much of our ‘progress’ is owed to another species--a species we both revered and cruelly enslaved. Students of history, lovers of horses, and those of us who recognize the crucial role of animals in human history will give this volume a prominent place on the bookshelf, and gratefully consult it again and again.
— Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
To call this history from scientist and journalist Raulff a sprawling work would be an understatement. The author’s deep love of and fascination with all things equine is apparent in this beautifully translated deep dive into the history of humankind’s relationship to the horse. . . . Beautifully written and undeniably compelling. Anyone with a love of horses will be in paradise reading this reverently catalogued tribute.
— Jennifer Stout - Library Journal
A fascinating canter through the history of horses and their dealings, for better or worse, with humans. . . . A top-notch addition to the library of any cultured equestrian; highly readable from start to finish.
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
For anybody who loves horses Ulrich Raulff’s book is an extraordinary and far-reaching examination of the horse in our art, culture and imagination, as well as its pivotal role in war, commerce and peace over so many centuries.
— Michael Korda, author of Horse People