Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2008
2008 California Book Award Silver Medal for Nonfiction
2008 California Book Award Silver Medal for Nonfiction
Synopses & Reviews
An epic story that restores the horse to its rightful place in the history of the American West.
Mustang is the sweeping story of the wild horse in the culture, history, and popular imagination of the American West. It follows the wild horse from its evolutionary origins on this continent to its return with the conquistadors to its bloody battles on the old frontier to its present plight as it fights for survival on the vanishing range.
Along the way, you meet some of the great characters equine and human alike in American history, including Comanche, the gallant horse that survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn; Charlie Joe, the intrepid cast member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show; Fritz, the mustang that became Americas first equine movie star; and Bugz, the survivor of the 1998 wild horse massacre outside Reno, Nevada. There's also Wild Horse Annie, who lobbied for the first federal protections for mustangs and, after a twenty-year fight, saw them signed into law in 1971.
In the tradition of Barry Lopez and Peter Matthiessen, Mustang follows the horse tracks across American history and shows that despite ever-encroaching civilization and dwindling protections, the horses still run wild, with spirit unbroken a living tableau of our heritage. But for how much longer, no one can say.
"Brisk, smart, thorough, and surprising." Atlantic Monthly
"A stampeding, crusading history of horses in America during the last half-millennium... a spirited defense of the wild horse, as well as a rousing, sweeping account of the horse from the arrival of the conquistadors, who would not have been able to subdue North America without it... a well-written, welcome work of history and advocacy." Kirkus Reviews
"Like the best nonfiction writers of our time (Jon Krakauer and Bruce Chatwin come to mind), Stillman's prose is inviting, her voice authoritative and her vision imaginative and impressively broad...[Mustang] is an invaluable history." Pam Houston, Sunday LA Times Book Review
"Told with passion and skill, filled with drama and dust and fascinating facts, Mustang is a worthy addition to the literature of the horse in the American West." Ian Frazier
"A stunner and a heartbreaker." NPR's On Point
"Powerful...As Stillman writes, 'America is bleeding.' In the case of Mustang, it is right from the heart." Orion
"A significant gift to readers." Seattle Times
"Particular books both define a topic and become the defining book on that topic. I am thinking of John McPhee's Oranges, Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death and Mike Davis's City of Quartz and today add to that list Deanne Stillman's Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West." Andrew Tonkovich, KPFK's Bibliocracy
"An eloquently written wake-up call." Pasadena Weekly
"Deanne Stillman has crafted a fascinating narrative with all the grace and power embodied in the wild horses that once populated the Western range by the hundreds of thousands....There is no 'happily ever after' in Stillman's magnificently told saga." Albuquerque Journal
"Might well be essential reading for westerners." Missoulian
"This urgent, compelling and unforgettable book builds a convincing case that wild horses are an essential part of both our national history and character." King Features Syndicate
"Extraordinary...you'll never forget it." Penthouse
"Remarkable." Tony Hillerman, author of Dance Hall of the Dead
"Deanne Stillman's writing, research and inspiration in the creation of Mustang is stunning. When finished, readers will fret over how the U.S. government can continue to allow the destruction of those who have been our brothers and sisters for centuries: America's wild horses." Michael Blake, author of Dances with Wolves and The Holy Road
"It's been said that the history of this nation was written from the back of a horse. But not until now with Deanne Stillman's Mustang has that history come to epic life. At once an important, comprehensive study and a spellbinding read, Mustang is ultimately a hymn to our homeland. Deanne Stillman makes a compelling case for the preservation of wild horses." John Fusco, screenwriter of Thunderheart, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Hidalgo
This epic story offers a sweeping tale of the wild horse in the culture, history, and popular imagination of the American West.
is the sweeping story of the wild horse in the culture, history, and popular imagination of the American West. It follows the wild horse across time, from its evolutionary origins on this continent to its return with the conquistadors, its bloody battles on the old frontier, its iconic status in Buffalo Bill shows and early westerns, and its plight today as it makes its last stand on the vanishing range. With the Bureau of Land Management proposing to euthanize thousands of horses and ever-encroaching development threatening the land, the mustangs position has never been more perilous. But as Stillman reveals, the horses are still running wild despite all the obstacles, with spirit unbroken.
"Like the best nonfiction writers of our time (Jon Krakauer and Bruce Chatwin come to mind), Stillman's prose is inviting, her voice authoritative, and her vision imaginative and impressively broad." (Pam Houston, Los Angeles Times)
About the Author
Deanne Stillman is a widely published, critically acclaimed writer. Her latest book, Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West, is an LA Times "best book 08," a winner of the California Book Award silver medal in nonfiction, and recipient of rave reviews in many places, including the Economist, Orion, and Atlantic Monthly. She is also the author of Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines, and the Mojave, which Hunter Thompson called "a strange and brilliant story by an important American writer." It was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, one of its "best books 01," and has just been published in a new, updated edition with a foreword by T. Jefferson Parker and preface by Charles Bowden. Deanne's work appears in various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, and Slate, and it is also widely anthologized. She is a member of the core faculty at the UCR-Palm Desert MFA Creative Writing Program. For the past twenty years she has lived in Los Angeles, close to her beloved desert, which she has explored by foot and on horseback.
Table of Contents
PART I: NEW WORLD 1. The Horses Return 3 2. Dawn of the Mustang: Eohippus to Equus 37 3. Hoofbeats on the Prairie 53 4. Comanche: The Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Horse That Survived 78
PART II: CENTER STAGE 5. All Roads Lead to Buffalo Bill 127 6. Rawhide: Of Cow Ponies and Bucking Broncos 161 7. The Wonder Horses That Built Hollywood 196
PART III: LAST STAND 8. The Mustang Besieged 231 9. The Mustang Endures 267
Epilogue: They Also Served 307 Acknowledgments 313 Notes on the Writing of This Book 315 Bibliography 323 Index 339
Read an exclusive essay by Deanne Stillman