A top-notch addition to the library of any cultured equestrian; highly readable from start to finish.




A fascinating canter through the history of horses and their dealings, for better or worse, with humans.

Horses have served humans for centuries. Still, writes Raulff, director of the German Literature Archive, we have arrived at the end of the “Age of Equus.” “To be born in the countryside in the mid-twentieth century meant growing up in an old world,” he writes at the outset of his sweeping cultural history, one in which horses did work drawing plows and wagons; even at that time, the horse was at the end of its useful life, the victim of a long decline in the age of mechanization that corresponded to the “long 19th century.” The “Centaurian Pact” that Raulff celebrates still exists, though horses are now mostly used for recreation, but under very different terms from those of the past. In his long, circumstantial discussion of horses in warfare, for instance, he observes that in World War I, between 8 million and 9 million horses were killed, about as many as humans. The book has an almanaclike feel to it, darting from sketch to interesting tidbit to extended narrative. Though it sometimes approaches an everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about manual, in all its oddments—e.g., Theodore Roosevelt risked a lawsuit from Buffalo Bill Cody for coining the term “Rough Riders,” the invention of the stirrup stirred demand for heavier armor and bigger horses, spurring evolution of armaments and animals alike, and so forth—there is a thoroughly impressive literary endeavor at play. Indeed, some of the best moments of this excellent book concern literary and artistic responses to horses, from the “savagely beaten or tormented horse” as a literary trope (Nietzsche, Kraus, Schopenhauer) to Slim Pickens’ riding “the hobby horse of the nuclear age” at the close of Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove.

A top-notch addition to the library of any cultured equestrian; highly readable from start to finish.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-432-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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