'When you touch a Lipizzaner,' Frank Westerman was told as a child, 'you are touching history.'
In Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse he explores the history of these unique creatures, an extraordinary troop of pedigree horses first bred as personal mounts for the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Following the bloodlines of the studbook, he reconstructs the story of four generations of imperial steeds 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?
Brother Mendel's Perfect Horse, a unique and engrossing fusion of history and travel writing, is a modern fable in which the pure-blood horse ends up revealing man's own shortcomings.