Author: Elizabeth Letts
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Length: 384 Pages
Release: August 2016
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
World War II and horses are two of my favorite things to learn about, so when I found out about this book I knew I had to read it. This book catalogs the rescue mission by a group of US soldiers, of a large collection of horses taken by the Nazis during the war.
I have never read many accounts of horses during WWII, so this was definitely eye opening. Even knowing about all of the horrible things that happen during war, what happens to animals is not presented as often. But with so much destroyed, of course horses (along with other work animals and pets) did not escape the horrors that befell men.
This book was educational and interesting, for the most part. It gives details about many of the men (American, Polish, German, and Austrian) that were involved in taking care of and rescuing the horses, both before and after the war. And while I loved learning about these people and what they had done--it even brought tears to my eyes a few times--I felt that in some ways it detracted from the story of the horses. Obviously the humans were important and learning about why they each decided to save these horses was inspiring, but the horses didn't get the attention I would have liked.
Going into this I expected it to be more about the actual mission of rescuing the horses and then what happened to the horses after they were rescued. That, however, is not what I got. There were great details given about the men involved in the mission, but very few of the horses were even mentioned by name. And in the end, when the author was explaining what happened with the men and horses, only two horses were mentioned by name.
I enjoyed reading about fellow horse lovers and the pain that they endured trying to save the horses that they loved during such dire circumstances. Learning about a piece of history that I had not previously been exposed to was exciting and I enjoyed that aspect of this book. The history of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna was another nice touch, since these horses and men were also involved in this.
I found the writing style somewhat cumbersome here. The story, while interesting, did not flow extremely well do me. There seemed to be too much jumping around from place to place and person to person within a chapter that I sometimes had a hard time keeping it all straight. Even though the events within a chapter were connected, the transitions could have been smoother.
Overall this was an interesting read and opened my eyes to some previously unstudied events during WWII. I will definitely be delving more into the lives of some of these men and horses in my future studies.