Sunny's bookshelf
Sunny's bookshelf photo by Judy Solomon

Online book reviews since 2011, the very best in reviewing – connecting good readers with equally good writers

The Perfect Horse

Sign up to receive our latest reviews by email

The Perfect Horse


The Perfect Horse by Elizabeth Letts, author of The Eighty Dollar Champion, was the perfect book to review for the Concord Clayton Pioneer. Just the month before, the Pioneer had a standout article about Elena Flaharty and her dressage champion horse, Charly. The Perfect Horse is about the rescue of horses stolen in WWII by the Nazis (for breeding purposes) from The Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. The Spanish Riding School is famous for its highly trained riders and white Lipizzaner stallions who take dressage to the highest level possible.

Letts does a great job of laying out the timing, the players, and the locations of this fascinating story, which peaks at almost the end of World War II. Some of you may remember the 1963 Disney movie, Miracle of the White Stallions. The movie version gives General George Patton the heroic role. In contrast, thanks to Letts’ meticulous research, her book introduces the reader to a range of characters, German, Austrian, and American, who were the real heroes. Patton’s part in the rescue was to okay the mission undertaken by Colonel “Hank” Reed, commanding officer of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry.

The Perfect Horse is laid out in near military precision: Part One – The Europeans; Part Two – The Americans; Part Three – The Mission; and Part Four – The Homecoming.  Under Europeans, Letts includes the Germans and all those characters whose countries were occupied by Germany. The Americans include not only GIs and officers but also a fascinating brief history of the U.S. Cavalry at its peak and its demise. Part One and Two are enhanced by the personal information surrounding each character. The one thing that connects the European and American participants is a love of horses. Once the Americans discover the compelling beauty of the Lipizzaner stallions and the amazing feats of both equestrian and horse, the plan to save them from falling back into Nazi or the approaching Russian hands is a no-brainer.

Letts includes personal background on the horses, mares and stallions. By the end of the war, both Nazis and Russians troops were slaughtering horses for meat. Those Germans wanting to save the Lipizzaners, knew their only hope was to have the U.S. Army claim them as captured spoils of war.

I grew a little impatient reading the first half of the book, but by page 145, with the rescue mission finally in view, I could not put the book down. The fate of the horses after the rescue, when the war in Europe has ended, is both wonderful and sad. After all, it is a war story. Nobody, Americans or Europeans, gets off easy, and that is one of the things I liked best about the author’s telling. The perfect horse is the Lipizzaner breed, but The Perfect Horse, the novel, is a story for the whole family to read and discuss. For those family members not ready for war stories, I suggest Marguerite Henry’s White Stallion of Lipizza for younger readers.  –  Sunny Solomon

Also available by Elizabeth Letts: The Eighty-Dollar Champion; Finding Dorothy; Quality of Care; Family Planning

Bookin’ with Sunny enthusiastically supports your Independent Bookstores and Public Libraries.

The Perfect Horse

Add your thoughts and comments...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this Review

Related Reviews

Dreamers of the Day

Dreamers of the Day

Dreamers of the Day is Mary Doria Russell’s novel that is as fresh if not fresher today than when first published in 2008. Mary Doria Russell’s

Read More »
The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library

Matt Haig’s novel, The Midnight Library, describes the twenty-seven hours it takes Nora Seed to choose life or death. The Midnight Library, Chapter One begins, “Nineteen

Read More »

The God of  Endings

Jacqueline Hollands’s debut novel, The God of  Endings, reveals the loneliness of the life of an unwilling vampire. Jacqueline Holland’s debut novel, The God of Endings, follows

Read More »

About the Reviewer

Sign up for reviews by email

You’ll get email updates from Bookin’ with Sunny when we add a new review or blog post, and we never share your email with anyone else.

Shopping in-store Fun!

Support your local community’s economic growth by shopping for books at your independent bookstore in person, online at their website, or by phone.