The Perfect Horse:

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

  • Read by: Paul Boehmer
  • Runtime: 12.8 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 8.23.2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Genre: Nonfiction/History
  • 12.78 hrs8/23/2016Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9780735285071

A New York Times Bestseller

Amazon Best Book of the Month

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

From the author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion comes 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 Army’s last great cavalrymen, American 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 valo

Editorial Reviews

A riveting and touching piece of equestrian history beautifully told . . . [Letts makes] long dead characters come alive, revealing their passions and fears and flashes of uncommon valor for the sake of horses whose fate lay in their hands. The horses, too, are vivid and unforgettable. . . . Don’t miss it.EquiSearchA brilliantly written story about Hitler’s effort to build an equine master race with the finest horses in Europe gathered in one place. As the end neared, these beautiful animals were within days of being slaughtered when a controversial covert mission was planned to rescue the horses and smuggle them to safety.PineStraw MagazineA truly fascinating chronicle of a dedicated group of horsemen and the risks they were willing to take to preserve the equine icon that is the Lipizzaner. . . . I was hooked from start to finish by Letts’s incredible attention to detail and her gripping account of the events surrounding and leading up to the rescue mission.Horse NationThe Perfect Horse is an enthralling and moving story that I could not put down. This is a riveting and unique perspective on World War II. History buffs and horse lovers will enjoy this amazing tale.Molly Guptill Manning, author of When Books Went to WarPassionately told and dazzling in scope, The Perfect Horse charges headlong into an unforgettable tale of World War II, when good men were given a final mission—to save beloved horses—at an hour when no one wanted to die. In Elizabeth Letts, the saga of World War II’s white stallions has found its perfect guardian.Adam Makos, author of A Higher CallIn Elizabeth Letts’s engrossing, richly researched book—a story of horses and heroism during the final days of World War II—we learn that our human instinct to protect our equine friends can cause us to risk even our own lives for their sake. This relatively unknown episode is as moving as it is dramatic.Wendy Williams, author of The HorseLetts deftly tells the harrowing tale of a little-known wartime mission and its unlikely heroes, who understood that the treasures they risked their lives for—some of the world’s finest-bred horses—were a keystone of civilization during a time of perilous threat. This is the best kind of storytelling.Joe Drape, author of American PharoahElizabeth Letts’s beautiful prose, woven together with meticulous research, takes you for a ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.Robin Hutton, author of Sgt. RecklessAn absorbing history of an unusual rescue mission in the closing days of the war in Europe . . . Letts does an excellent job of bringing the various players to life.BookPageA wholly original, illuminating perspective on the war The Perfect Horse tells a fascinating story of bravery and benevolence that has gone far too long without reaching an audience. Full of action, heartbreak and well-developed characters, it has everything needed to be adapted into an outstanding war movie. To anyone with a love of horses or other animals, Letts’ fantastic, almost humanizing characterizations of some of the horses will make this book an instant favorite. And to history buffs, The Perfect Horse provides a totally fresh look at WWII that can’t be found anywhere else.Bookreporter

“Straight out of the cauldron of Nazi brutality and war, Elizabeth Letts weaves not just a page-turner but an achingly glorious story of grace and redemption.”

Vicki Constantine Croke, New York Times bestselling author

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 MonitorThe Perfect Horse raises the narrative bar. Applying her skills as a researcher, storyteller and horsewoman, Letts provides context that makes this account spellbinding.Culturess

“Whether you’re a history buff, a horse fan, or can appreciate how doing one positive thing can have enormous impact, The Perfect Horse is the perfect read for you.”

“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.”

Christian Science Monitor

“Hard to put down…One need not be an equestrian or horse lover in order to appreciate this story.”

New York Journal of Books

“A truly fascinating chronicle…I was hooked from start to finish by Letts’s incredible attention to detail and her gripping account of the events surrounding and leading up to the rescue mission.”

Horse Nation magazine

“Letts, a lifelong equestrienne, eloquently brings together the many facets of this unlikely, poignant story underscoring the love and respect of man for horses…The author’s elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Paul Boehmer’s narration is melodic and deliberate as he outlines the background of the Nazi eugenics program as applied to horse breeding…Boehmer’s facility with Eastern European names and places is apparent…Boehmer ramps-up the drama for the flight of the horses out of war-torn Vienna and Hostau, Czechoslovakia, the nighttime ride by the son of a US senator to negotiate the animals’ safety, and the passage of the ‘orphan horses’ across the ocean to the United States.”


Author Biography

Elizabeth Letts is the award-winning author of two novels for adults and one children’s book. She has a bachelor’s degree in American history and a master’s in nurse-midwifery, both from Yale. An equestrian from childhood, she was runner-up in the California Horse and Rider of the Year competition.

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Reader Biography

Paul Boehmer is an American actor best known for his numerous appearances in the Star Trek universe. Paul is a 1992 Masters of Fine Arts graduate of the Professional Theater Training Program at the University of Delaware.

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