Format Hardcover
Publication Date 09/03/19
ISBN 9781643132105
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 432

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Unbreakable

The Woman Who Defied the Nazis in the World's Most Dangerous Horse Race

Richard Askwith

The courageous and heartbreaking story of a Czech countess who defied the Nazis in a legendary horse race.

Czechoslovakia, October 1937. Europe’s youngest democracy is on its knees. Millions are mourning the death of the nation’s founding father, the saintly Tomáš Masaryk. Across the border, the Third Reich is menacing – and plotting to invade. In the countryside, vast crowds have gathered to watch the threatened nation’s most prestigious sporting contest: the Grand Pardubice steeplechase. Notoriously dangerous, the race is considered the ultimate test of manhood and fighting spirit. The Nazis have sent their paramilitary elite—SS officers on a mission to crush the “subhuman Slavs." The local cavalry officers have no hope of stopping them. But there is one other contestant: a countess riding a little golden mare… The story of Lata Brandisová is by turns enigmatic and inspiring. Born into privilege, she spent much of her life in poverty. Modest and shy, she refused to accept the constraints society placed on her because of her gender. Instead, with quiet courage, she repeatedly achieved what others said was impossible and rose above scandal to became her nation’s figurehead in its darkest hour. Then came retribution… Unbreakable is a story of endurance and defiance in an age of prejudice, fear, sexism, class hatred, and nationalism. Filled with eccentric aristocrats, socialite spies, daredevil jockeys—and a race so brutal that some consider merely taking part in it a sign of insanity—Unbreakable brings to life a unique hero, and an unforgettable love affair between a woman and a horse.  

Richard Askwith is the author of Feet in the Clouds, which was shortlisted for the William Hill and Boardman-Tasker prizes and was named by Runner’s World as one of the three best running books of all time. He is also the author of Running Free, which was short-listed for the Thwaites-Wainwright Prize, and Today We Die a Little, a biography of Emil Zatopek.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Askwith traces the inspiring, heartbreaking story of Czech countess Lata Brandisová in this rousing account. Askwith rescues her remarkable, forgotten story through dogged detective work and lyrical prose. This is an intense roller coaster from start to finish.” Publishers Weekly
“A rousingly readable chronicle.” The Sunday Times
“A wonderfully in-depth and often emotionally charged piece of writing.” Athletics Weekly
“A significant contribution to international sports and steeplechase history, this is a moving, well-told account of a courageous heroine devoted to God, family, country, and her horses.” Booklist (starred)
“An astonishing achievement.” Literary Review