"In 5,500 years of domestication humans have transformed horses' bodies into everything from buttons to a physical reincarnation from the mythical past of a nation. This is not a history of the horse, but it is a story of six ways in which we have recreated it, from Wildness to Culture, Power to Meat, Wealth to War."
The Age of the Horse was published by Atlantic Books in the UK and by Grove Atlantic in the USA. It topped The Bookseller's "Previewer's Choice" for 2016 European and World History Books and gained a starred review in Book List. In 2016, it was named one of Waterstone's Best Countryside and Nature Books. Hara Shobo published the Japanese translation by Kyoko Matsuo in November 2017. I added an important afterword in February 2018.
"From Xenophon to Hitler via Chinese polo and the battle of Waterloo, this extraordinary work demonstrates how much better world history looks with a horse in the foreground."
Meg Rosoff, novelist and winner of the 2016 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
“In clear, introspective prose that underscores the astonishing depth of her research, Forrest tracks human history through the eyes of our equine companions . . . it is indeed that personal touch, that devotion, that elevates this volume from fascinating history to work of art.”
Booklist (starred review)
"Susanna Forrest is the outstanding writer at the erudite end of horse madness. Her 2012 memoir of her own obsession, If Wishes Were Horses, was terrific; this next homage, expanding and reinterpreting our cultural relationship with equines, is equally fresh and clever. ... Her writing is occasionally sublime ... for the horse-addicted, a book can get no better than this ... Forrest, a social anthropologist by training, heart truly pierced, has written a profound historical love story. ... Her book is original, cerebral and from the heart."
Melanie Reid, The Times.
"Forrest covers wide sweeps of history and geography with dexterity and panache . . . On the telepathic alertness of herds of Takhi wild horses on the Mongolian steppes ... she is lyrical. In her dissection of the illogicalities of American laws on horse slaughter ... she becomes a potent campaigner. You don't need to be a hippophile to enjoy The Age of the Horse."
Robin Oakley, The Literary Review.
"Evidence of the human impact on the planet has prompted debate over whether the current geological period should be known as the Anthropocene. Susanna Forrest’s The Age of the Horse makes us see that the Anthropocene is just as much the 'Hippocene'. ... Each chapter in this enthusiastic trek is packed with arresting moments and details ... [A] powerful, passionate book ..."
Fiona Stafford, The Sunday Times.
Patrick Berners, Sunday Telegraph.
"Susanna Forrest is the ideal guide for exploring the ancient bond between horses and humans. Deeply personal and impressively researched, The Age of the Horse is a moving tribute an awesome example of interspecies rapport."
Adrienne Mayor, author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World.
"…her passion for the horse leaps from the pages of a book that is a rich fount of knowledge for anyone interested in the innumerable and endlessly fascinating points where horse and human meet."
Candida Baker, Times Literary Supplement.
"With grace, erudition, and keen insight, Susanna Forrest explores our fraught and glorious relationship with the horse. From its early days as a partner on the steppes to its role in latter-day wars, Susanna reveals many surprises on the trail, concluding that the survival of humans and horses lies 'in a sympathy that is separate but locked together.' Such an observation could not come at a more critical time – and it is one that we all should heed."
Deanne Stillman, author of Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West.
"The book has the feel of episodic documentary television: discrete, self-contained explorations that taken together begin to meld into a rich pattern of well-researched, thoughtful detail. And some of it is extraordinary. . . . It's a fascinating, lucid and sometimes elegantly literary book, that hints gently at the great wonder of this ancient coupling of two mammal species."
Jonathan Green, Sydney Morning Herald.
"Whether describing the splendours of the haute école, the miseries of the American horsemeat trade, or the horse-thronged streets of 19th-century London, Forrest writes with a fine descriptive vigour. Her essayistic approach allows for an exhilarating blend of the historical and the personal, with lively digressions."
Jane Shilling, The Evening Standard.
"A richly informative, lively, and elegantly written overview of the horse in human culture and history that engages the reader right from the start in its exploration of the horse’s evolution and conservation, in war, industry, farming and even the theater, as luxury object and source of food, among many other topics. Susanna Forrest successfully synthesizes an enormous amount of information and presents it in an academically sound, but readily accessible form that I can best compare with the work of Barry Lopez in Of Wolves and Men. Anyone with even the slightest interest in horses and their past, present, and future as human companions, allies or victims should be sure to read it and learn from it."
Peter Mitchell, professor of archaeology at the University of Oxford and author of Horse Nations: The Worldwide Impact of the Horse on Indigenous Societies post-1492.
"Like a day in the field on your best horse, this book diverts and educates in equal measure."
The Field magazine.
Roger Hainsworth, The Adelaide Review
“An encyclopedic account of horses and those who love them . . . a worthy addition to the equestrian library.”
"We are not alone. Human history has not just been visited by animals. It has been constituted by them. A few species in particular have played starring roles in this history. If the dog has been a loyal sidekick, the horse, Susanna Forrest shows, has been a somewhat more distant, more aloof collaborator in the rise to planetary domination of the human species. Like something out of science-fiction, an alien ally who joins forces with the humanoids in intergalactic battle, the horse, with its great and different body, with its unimaginable desires, is nonetheless one of us, in war, sport, work, and sometimes love. The Age of the Horse is nothing other than human history itself. No animal more deserves a rigorous and deep investigation of its place in human life, and no one is better positioned to provide it than Forrest. She approaches her subject with both love and lucidity, with a sharp awareness of the limits of what we can know about horses – what it is like to be them, how we grew so close to them – but at the same time a power of imagination that gives the reader the impression of moving beyond these limits. I have not gone near a horse for some decades, but after reading Forrest's book I have never felt closer to them."
Justin E H Smith, professor of history of philosophy and science, University of Paris 7, Dennis Diderot. Author of Nature, Human Nature and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy.
"The Age of the Horse surprises and delights at every turn. This thoroughly and imaginatively researched, beautifully written book takes us to new destinations and offers new stories from the frontlines of horse–human sociality."
Donna Landry, professor of English and American literature, University of Kent. Author of Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed English Culture.
"A very detailed, well-researched history of the evolution, domestication, and usage of horses throughout the ages and in different geographic areas. Susanna Forrest travelled the globe to learn about the practices of the past – including the horse at work and in war and religion – and about how people look upon horses today."
Robert Sommer, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Davis.
"The Age of the Horse takes horses seriously in their multiplicity, in all the different ways they have been and are a part of our lives . . . This is rigorously researched, but accessible. Through the common history of humans and equids, it is a tribute to the adaptability of both species."
Robin Irvine, University of St Andrews.
“Susanna Forrest tells the complete story of the horse, from the Mongolian steppes to Victorian coaches and Amish farms, in a book filled with vivid anecdotes and big ideas.”
Boria Sax, cultural historian and author of Choice: Animals in the Third Reich: Pets, Scapegoats, and the Holocaust.
"Horses are woven into human history. In some ways horses have made humanity what it is. Here, Susanna Forrest does a wonderful big-picture job of conveying what we have made the horse, what the horse has made us, and how diminished humankind would be without the presence of horses."
Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel.
“Susanna Forrest’s The Age of the Horse is just such a miracle, and it is by far one of the best books I’ve read in 2017 . . . It is a triumph, and one to be enjoyed by anyone looking for a good read.”
Gretchen Lida, Washington Independent Review of Books.
"Many a horse lover would prefer to spend their entire day on the trail or at the race track, with no other human to taint the majesty of the experience. Susanna Forrest goes even further, delivering all of history with a sharp equine focus. Through her fascinating delving she creates a magical world where these exquisite creatures reign supreme."
Elizabeth Mitchell, author of Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing and Liberty's Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty
"The history of human-horse relations is, and continues to be, a rich and deeply troubling epic. Susanna Forrest has done it admirable justice."
Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows.