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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Legendary Hearts of Horses by Adrienne Neary is a non-fiction thesis that takes an in-depth look into the rare 'super-heart' of racehorses, drawing on the famed Secretariat and his heart, which is estimated to weigh a spectacular twenty-two pounds. Neary's primary purpose is to educate readers on the X factor theory, a hypothesis that attributes a gene mutation in the X chromosome, and present her own findings as she researched the phenomenon of the most powerful of equine hearts. In her quest she pulls together equine history and some of the greatest racehorses of all time, including Eclipse, Man o' War, Phar Lap, and, of course, Secretariat. But Neary's research goes much, much further back than this, bridging a gap between domestic, wild, and feral horses and their human counterparts and an equine lineage that likely shaped the mightiest of hearts.
Adrienne Neary compiles a great deal of information in Legendary Hearts of Horses without resorting to the usual flourish that tends to skew a reader to an author's perception of facts. The book is also devoid of fluffy page fillers, which I deeply appreciate as a reader who wants a clear, concise, and tightly written delivery of data. This format does not take away from Neary's enthusiasm, which comes across the page with so much zeal that I, a person who knows virtually nothing about horses, let alone their anatomical and genetic makeup, approached the book with equal enthusiasm. The most interesting part to me is on the evolution of the modern horse and a spotlight on the genus Equus dating back millions of years. Neary's work sets her apart as a true authority and I have no doubt that others will find as much interest in her book as I have.