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The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by The Nazis

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Elizabeth Letts

Narrated By: Paul Boehmer

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: August 2016

Duration: 12 hours 48 minutes


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion, the remarkable story of the heroic rescue of priceless horses in the closing days of World War II


In the chaotic last days of the war, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find—his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world’s finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine—an equine master race. But with the starving Russian army closing in, the animals are in imminent danger of being slaughtered for food.

With only hours to spare, one of the U.S. Army’s last great cavalrymen, Colonel Hank Reed, makes a bold decision—with General George Patton’s blessing—to mount a covert rescue operation. Racing against time, Reed’s small but determined force of soldiers, aided by several turncoat Germans, steals across enemy lines in a last-ditch effort to save the horses.

Pulling together this multistranded story, Elizabeth Letts introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters: Alois Podhajsky, director of the famed Spanish Riding School of Vienna, a former Olympic medalist who is forced to flee the bomb-ravaged Austrian capital with his entire stable in tow; Gustav Rau, Hitler’s imperious chief of horse breeding, a proponent of eugenics who dreams of genetically engineering the perfect warhorse for Germany; and Tom Stewart, a senator’s son who makes a daring moonlight ride on a white stallion to secure the farm’s surrender.

A compelling account for animal lovers and World War II buffs alike, The Perfect Horse tells for the first time the full story of these events. Elizabeth Letts’s exhilarating tale of behind-enemy-lines adventure, courage, and sacrifice brings to life one of the most inspiring chapters in the annals of human valor.

Praise for The Perfect Horse

“Winningly readable . . . Letts captures both the personalities and the stakes of this daring mission with such a sharp ear for drama that the whole second half of the book reads like a WWII thriller dreamed up by Alan Furst or Len Deighton. . . . The right director could make a Hollywood classic out of this fairy tale.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Letts, a lifelong equestrienne, eloquently brings together the many facets of this unlikely, poignant story underscoring the love and respect of man for horses.”—Kirkus Reviews


  • Donna O\'Neil

    I'm a horse person; how could I not like the book. I grew up reading Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley. I saw the movie "The Miracle of the White Stallions", as soon as it came out. I attended the traveling troupe of Lippizaner stallions when they first toured our city. Later, I read Alois Podhasky's "My Horses, My Teachers". But I listened to the book; I imagine it would have been a dry read. It is an important piece of history and I enjoyed learning more about the politics of the demise of the U.S. Cavalry, the number of horses used in WW11, and the actual events that lead to the horses needing rescue. But, I couldn't help but be annoyed at the pampered treatment the horses received juxtaposed with the human suffering and genocide happening at the same time. I couldn't help but cringe every time a sugar lump was fed to a horse....Really, when sugar was such a rationed commodity. I think that is a bit of poetic license. Elizabeth Letts could have used this juxtaposition more effectively in her writing, instead of embellishing each part separately, causing a disconnect. She was quite free offering her opinion through her word craft, she could have done a better job, putting each part of her account in context. As a horse and history lover, I would recommend this book to similar interest listeners. But if you are looking for a story, give this one a pass.

  • Andrew Susin

    Admittedly I am only at the 7:23 hour mark and there's still 4 1/2 hrs left to go. This is a somewhat interesting book much like reading the encyclopedia can be interesting but not exactly entertaining. There is no plot! The book is filled, overflowing would be more apt, with character background but so many of those characters play such a minuscule, if any, part in the actual story that you are left wondering if anyone even bothered to edit the book before it was published. I've heard it as described as The Horse Whisperer meets Saving Private Ryan. Well it's neither of those great tales and if you are looking for The Nightengale you won't find it here.

  • Brenda VanWie

    Awesome story telling what some people did to save the priceless horses during WWII.

  • Karen Dames

    Wonderful book if you are a World War II buff and love horses.

  • Joseph Brinson

    Just a fabulous tale. Whether a military fan, patriot or horse lover, this story is for you. Saving Private Ryan meets Horse Whisperer.

Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by The Nazis

by Elizabeth Letts

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Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by The Nazis, Elizabeth Letts