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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Equids In Time And Space: Papers in Hounour of Vera Eisenmann by Marjan Mashkour (Oxbow Books Limited) This book is one of several volumes which form the pub­lished proceedings of the 9th meeting of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ), which was held in Durham (UK) 23rd-28th August 2002. ICAZ was founded in the early '70s and has ever since acted as the main international organisation for the study of animal remains from archaeological sites. The main international conferences are held every four years, and the Durham meeting – the largest ever – follows those in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, England (London), France, USA, Germany and Canada. The next meeting will be held in Mexico in 2006. The Durham conference – which was attended by about 500 delegates from 46 countries –was organised in 23 thematic sessions, which attracted, in addition to zooarchaeologists, scholars from related disciplines such as palaeoanthropology, archaeobotany, bone chemistry, genetics, mainstream archaeology etc.

The publication structure reflects that of the conference, each volume dealing with a different topic, be it methodo­logical, ecological, palaeoeconomic, sociological, historical or anthropological (or a combination of these). Thisorganisation by theme rather than by chronology or region, was chosen for two main reasons. The first is that we wanted to take the opportunity presented by such a large gathering of researchers from across the world to encourage international communication, and we thought that this could more easily be achieved through themes with world-wide relevance. The second is that we thought that, by tackling broad questions, zooarchaeologists would be more inclined to take a holistic approach and integrate their information with other sources of evidence. This also had the potential of attracting other specialists who shared an interest in that particular topic. We believe that our choice turned out to be correct for the conference, and helped substantially towards its success. For the publication there is the added benefit of having a series of volumes that will be of interest far beyond the restricted circle of specialists on faunal remains. Readers from many different backgrounds, ranging from history to zoology, will certainly be interested in many of the fourteen volumes that will be published.

Due to the large number of sessions it would have been impractical to publish each as a separate volume, so some that had a common theme have been combined. Far from losing their main thematic focus, these volumes have the potential to attract a particularly wide and diverse readership. Because of these combinations (and because two other sessions will be published outside this series) it was therefore possible to reduce the original 24 sessions to 14 volumes. Publication of such a series is a remarkable undertaking, and we are very grateful to David Brown and Oxbow Books for agreeing to produce the volumes.

If dogs are our earliest companions and cattle, sheep, goat and pigs the species that revolutionised the way we procure our food, there is little doubt that equids, and horses in particular, have had the most profound effect on human mobility and warfare. Wild horses – now almost completely extirpated from the face of the earth – repre­sented an essential prey for many Palaeolithic cultures, but it is probably the domestic horse that has had the greatest impact on human history. The domestication of the horse represents a particularly controversial issue in zooarchaeology, with various claims and counter-claims about identification criteria and likely areas of origins raised over the years. Whenever, wherever and however horses and donkeys were domesticated, this certainly occurred later than for other animal species. In turn, domestic equids became important cultural markers and in some cases even status symbols; in Europe, the appearance of the domestic horse has been taken to represent the arrival of new people or at least the emergence of new links with eastern populations. The history of equids is associated with the history of human movement, trade and exchange in later prehistory, and this is why the relation between people and horses, more so than for any other species, is widely regarded as an issue of general archaeological, and not simply zooarchaeological, interest. To identify truly domestic horses and donkeys it is vital to understand the history of their wild ancestors and their eventual disappearance from various areas of the globe. It is also essential that sound methods are devised to tackle that most intractable of zooarchaeological problems – the separation of wild and domestic forms and of various equid species (including their hybrids). If in Europe the only native equid species are represented by the horse and the enigmatic and now extinct 'hydruntinus', several species live and lived in the Asian steppes, making the identification of equid bones a real problem for zooarchaeologists working in those areas.

The archaeological investigation of the history of the human-equid relationship is, therefore, complex, diverse and fascinating – and the ideal subject for an ICAZ session and a book of the series. All subjects mentioned above are discussed or at least touched upon in this volume. There are methodological as well as historical chapters dealing with problems ranging from the earliest purported evidence for domestication, to the role of horses in the classical periods; the geographic scope is also vast, spanning Portugal to China, and Siberia to Africa. Marjan Mashkour did an excellent job in drawing on many experts in the field and in assembling such a complete and diverse range of topics. Marjan dedicated the session and the book to a scholar who, probably more than anyone else, has contributed to the advance of the research into the history of equids – Vera Eisenmann.

Several years ago when I was working on a French medieval assemblage I was confronted for the first time with a great number of Equid remains. That was how I came to knock at the door of Vera Eisenmann' s second floor office in the Paleontology Lab of the Paris Natural History Museum Paris. She immediately offered me her help. Later on when beginning my PhD on Iranian fauna, I came across a very diverse and important prehistoric assemblage of Equids. That was when I began my real training with her. She offered me her knowledge, and over all those wonderful years I observed Vera and tried to learn from her, particularly her rigorous research methods. But the most impressive thing about working with Vera is how she uses her experienced eye and mind; it was a magic time I had the chance to share with her. Vera Eisenmann is one of the true "specialists" who have devoted an important part of their life to studying and investigating one major problem. For more than 30 years she has worked continuously on Equids in the same patient, humble manner. For her the question is Evolution and Equids are the object she has followed to understand its tortuous trends.

The quest began in 1966 after having accomplished her medical studies, when she knocked at the door of the Natural History Museum in Paris and was graciously allowed to work on Oligocene carnivore remains in Quercy (France), (cf. bibliographic list N°2), for her second Thesis. This was her introduction to the area of professional scientific techniques that involves rum­maging and fumbling through cupboards. But that was when a major event occurred: she found a badger, classified among the hystrixs! From then on, refined scepticism and highly critical insight became qualities synonymous with her work.

In 1969, the Holy Grail was near to hand a second time. She had finally entered the realm of Equids. Her favourite animals where the Hipparions (N° 4, 11, 13, 18 etc..) and also Horses (N°14, 15), Zebras (N°6) , Asses, Hemiones, and of course the mysterious Hydruntinus. Her favourite bones: skulls and metadopials. Studying these animals needed an overall view, which meant gathering large amount of data on all extant species, the result of which is the precious metrical database she established and which drove her to investigation in some 40 Museums around the world, in Africa, Europe, America and Asia. A major reflection on the systematic of Equids was born with her "State Thesis" in 1979 (N° 15 and 16). After all these years of work, and the countless hours of scrutinizing thousands and thousands of bones, she still continues to be amazed by a tooth, a small piece of bone, the possibility of a new discovery...

I am personally indebted to Vera, not only for the training she provided in the field, but also for all the great lessons of life I have learned from her. Organising a meeting to honour her titanic "Oeuvre" at the IXth International Conference of ArchaeoZoloogy at Durham has been a great pleasure for me, and I have been kindly supported and helped by Richard Meadow, Keith Dobney and Umbertto Albarella and the scientific team I belong to. This is my way of thanking her, and an acknow­ledgement of the huge impetus she has given to the study of Equids in paleontology and archaeozoology. The meeting brought together more than 20 researchers dealing with specific problems posed by the study of Equids working all over the world. The papers presented in this volume reflect the extent of the theme of this meeting.

The Revolution in Horsemanship: And What It Means to Mankind by Robert Miller, Rick Lamb (The Lyons Press) There has been a change in how we treat our horses. We no longer "break" them to harness or saddle; we "gentle" them, so they become our partners, their natural grace and athleticism restored and enhanced through humane and thoughtful methods.
With its thorough exploration and analysis of training attitudes and approaches-from such classical horsemen as Xenophon and Pluvinel to modern masters like the Dorrances, Buck Brannaman, Pat Parelli, and John Lyons-The Revolution in Horsemanship is one of the most important equestrian publishing events of this decade, and ensures its position as a classic in the field.

The New Encyclopedia of the Horse by Elwyn Hartley Edwards, Photography by Bob Langrish and Kit Houghton (DK)  In this superb expanded and updated volume, equestrian expert Elwyn Hartley Edwards traces the evolution of the horse, covering every major breed of horse and pony as well as the contribution the horse has made to civilization -- in the wild, at work, at war, and in sport and recreation. Chronicling the history of the horse, The New Encyclopedia of the Horse encompasses the early domestication of the horse. This expanded edition features new information on Western riding as well as classical riding styles, and current international sporting events. There are also completely new chapters on horse management, training, and equipment. Visual Breed Guide: There are more than 150 of the world's major breeds of horse and pony photographed in specially commissioned full-figure portraits as well as hundreds of action shots. The origin, history, and uses of each breed are explained, and each breed is brought to life by historical anecdotes and fascinating, little-known facts. Outstanding specimens of familiar as well as obscure breeds are featured, including Dutch Warmbloods and Camargues, Icelandic and Timor Ponies, Morgans and Shetlands, Andalucian and Lusitano, and the Cutting Horse. Brand New Chapters: The new sections on horse management, training, and equipment explain the basics of the proper care of the horse. Information is also included on farriers, feeding, grooming, horse behavior, training techniques, and which equipment to use, including saddles, bridles, and bits. Truly encyclopedic in scope, this is the essential reference for every horse lover.

 Spectacular Bid by Timothy T. Capps (Thoroughbred Legends: Eclipse Press) Called "the greatest horse ever to look through a bridle," Spectacular Bid achieved what few racehorses do perfection. At the age of four, Bid put together one of the best campaigns ever, going undefeated in nine starts.

Author Timothy T. Capps tells the story of the great racehorse in Spectacular Bid, part of the Thoroughbred Legends series. The author details the heart‑breaking Triple Crown run of Spectacular Bid, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and seemed a sure thing in the Belmont until he ran third. The horse's connections afterward blamed Bid's defeat on a stray safety pin that had caused a minor injury.

But Spectacular Bid's career was more than just a missed Triple Crown. He had versatile speed that allowed him to run from anywhere in the field, whether on the lead or far back, and he used his speed to overpower his rivals time and again. An eye‑catching steel gray, Spectacular Bid was a champion at the ages of two, three, and four, and was Horse of the Year at four.

Spectacular Bid is a wonderful and insightful look at one of America’s greatest and most beloved racehorse.

Forego by Bill Heller (Thoroughbred Legends: Eclipse Press) FOREGO is the story of a great gelding whose grit and determination on the racetrack captured the hearts of racing fans across the country. Forego raced from age three through age eight, winning thirty‑four of his fifty-seven career starts. He earned a record eight Eclipse Awards, the highest honor in horse racing, including three Horse of the Year titles from 1974 to 1976.

During those Horse of the Year seasons, Forego became renowned for carrying heavyweights in races, toting 130 pounds or more in twenty‑four stakes or top‑class races. He was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in 1979.

Forego follows the gelding from his beginnings, his early years on the track, including his effort in Secretariat's Kentucky Derby, and on to stardom.

The reader traces Forego’s career through his retirement from racing and his life at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, where fans could visit him until his death in 1997.

There has never been a book written solely on Forego before, and now the great heavyweight champion finally gets his due.

Nashua by Edward L. Bowen (Thoroughbred Legends: Eclipse Press) NASHUA, the latest title in the Thoroughbred Legends series, is the first book to focus on the life of the charismatic racehorse. Nashua became a sports icon of the 1950s with his thrilling and heart-stopping running style.

The big bay horse achieved much of his fame on the racetrack thanks to his exciting and well‑publicized rivalry with 1955 Kentucky Derby winner Swaps. Nashua was runner‑up in that Derby, but the two met again in a nationally televised match race in Chicago. Nashua won and later was named Horse of the Year.

Author Edward L. Bowen, who also wrote Man o' War, the first book in the Thoroughbred Legends series, takes the reader through the different phases of Nashua's life ‑ his early years, his racing career, and his life as a stallion and popular tourist attraction in the Kentucky Bluegrass. Bowen also weaves in the stories of Nashua's trainer, the legendary Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, and owner, William Woodward jr., who was fatally shot by his wife in a high‑society tragedy that is to this day surrounded by questions.

Nashua was subsequently sold in a sealed bid auction after the shooting and made his own headlines by becoming the most expensive horse to be sold up to that point in time.

Nashua helps racing fans relive their memories of the great horse or discover him for the first time.

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