A book that examines the history of the Lipizzaner and, in particular, the controversial breeding experiments conducted on the breed during the world wars, was launched at the recent Edinburgh International Book Festival.

By Dutch author and journalist, Frank Westerman, the book entitled “Brother Mendel’s Perfect Horse” looks at the extraordinary troop of pedigree horses first bred as personal mounts for the Emperor of Austria-Hungary.

Following the bloodlines of the studbook, Westerman 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.

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?

For more information, visit: http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/brother-mendels-perfect-horse-man-and-beast-in-an-age-of-human-warfare/9781846550881