Synopses & Reviews
In 1950, Velma Johnston was a secretary at an insurance company in Reno, Nevada. Twenty years later, she had become a national hero, responsible for spurring Congress into passing legislation that protected wild horses, a feat that cemented her renown as "Wild Horse Annie." This stirring biography is the first to tell the story of Johnston's life and her extraordinary dedication to the mustangs that represent the spirit of the West.
Veteran writers David Cruise and Alison Griffiths paint a vivid portrait of this intrepid woman, who survived a cruelly disfiguring bout with polio as a child and channeled her energy and intellect into her career and marriage -- until she encountered a truck of injured, half-dead horses on her way to work in 1950. Those horses, destined for a pet food rendering plant, launched Johnston into a decades-long campaign against ranchers and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to stop the roundup and slaughter of mustangs. At a time when animal rights was barely a cause and women were still expected to stay at home, Johnston embarked on dangerous vigilante missions to free captured horses and document roundups, and began a highly organized one-woman campaign to raise public awareness of their plight, all while continuing to work and maintain a household.
Johnston's courage, determination, and innovative tactics -- she initiated a children's letter-writing campaign that flooded Congress with more mail than it had received on any issue except the Vietnam War -- pitted her against ranchers and powerful politicians, but eventually won her support and admiration around the world, including the friendship of celebrated children's author Marguerite Henry, who fictionalized her story in a children's novel.
In this absorbing and carefully researched biography, Cruise and Griffiths depict the ups and downs of a remarkable woman's life and mission, reveal her lasting legacy, and capture the romance and magic of the wild horses that inspired her.
"For 25 years, one extraordinary woman waged a lonely war against the cruel and greedy forces that were systematically removing the wild American mustangs from even the most inhospitable of federal lands. This book is a thoroughly researched and riveting tribute to the life and achievements of Velma Johnston and her struggles – against massive odds - to protect her beloved mustangs."
--Martin Harbury, author of The Last of the Wild Horses
"It doesn't get more American than the mustang, and without Wild Horse Annie, we would not have any. Now, as wild horses are making their last stand, it's important to honor her legacy and continue the battle. Thanks to this well-researched and timely book, we can."
--Deanne Stillman, author of Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West
“Velma Johnson was a strong willed individual who made a difference. As a child she suffered from polio and in her era, careers for women were limited. She overcame these obstacles and stopped the atrocious abuse of wild horses.”
--Temple Grandin, author, Animals in Translation and Animals Make us Human
“Velma Johnston (Wild Horse Annie) is one of the most important people in our American history. She single-handedly saved our mustangs and with that our western heritage. This is an important book and Cruise and Griffiths have done a spectacular job of bringing home her story.”
--Madeleine Pickens, National Wild Horse Foundation
The true story of the intrepid woman whose life-long determination to protect America's mustangs captured the heart of the country
In 1950, Velma Johnston was a thirty-eight-year-old secretary enroute to work near Reno, Nevada, when she came upon a truck of battered wild horses that had been rounded up and were to be slaughtered for pet food. Shocked and angered by this gruesome discovery, she vowed to find a way to stop the cruel round-ups, a resolution that led to a life-long battle that would pit her against ranchers and powerful politicians—but eventually win her support and admiration around the world. This is the first biography to tell her courageous true story..
Like Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, or Temple Grandin, Velma Johnston dedicated her life to public awareness and protection of animals. Wild Horse Annie and the Last of the Mustangs follows Velma from her childhood, in which she was disfigured by polio, to her dangerous vigilante-style missions to free captured horses and document round-ups, through the innovative and exhaustive grassroots campaign which earned her the nickname “Wild Horse Annie” and led to Congress passing the “Wild Horse Annie Bill,” to her friendship with renowned children’s author and horse-lover Marguerite Henry..
A powerful combination of adventure, history, and biography, Wild Horse Annie and the Last of the Mustangs beautifully captures the romance and magic of wild horses and the character of the strong-willed woman who made their survival her legacy. .
About the Author
David Cruise and Alison Griffiths began writing together in 1983 and are the authors of seven bestselling books, including Fleecing the Lamb, Lords of the Line, Net Worth, On South Mountain, and The Great Adventure. Griffiths hosted the acclaimed financial television show “Maxed Out,” for three years and she writes the nationally syndicated columns, Alison on Money and Me and My Money. They have two daughters and divide their time between their small farms in southwestern Ontario and Brooksville, Florida. Please visit wildhorseanniestory.com David Cruise and Alison Griffiths began writing together in 1983 and are the authors of seven bestselling books, including Fleecing the Lamb, Lords of the Line, Net Worth, On South Mountain, and The Great Adventure. Griffiths hosted the acclaimed financial television show “Maxed Out,” for three years and she writes the nationally syndicated columns, Alison on Money and Me and My Money. They have two daughters and divide their time between their small farms in southwestern Ontario and Brooksville, Florida. Please visit wildhorseanniestory.com