BOOKS: RANCH OF DREAMS
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1998:
RANCH OF DREAMS
by Cleveland Amory
Viking Press (375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014), 1997. 288 pages, hardcover,
Cleveland Amory’s Ranch of Dreams is a pleasant stroll through the informative,
adventurous corridors of his memories of evolving from the child who adored his Aunt Lu
and all the strays she took in to become one of the founders of the modern animal rights
movement. It’s a sweet, often moving tale.
Amory begins with fond childhood recollections of both his Aunt Lu and his
grandmother (a personal favorite of mine), and the pivotal influence they and Anna
Sewell’s classic novel Black Beauty had on young Amory’s developing values and sensibilities.
From there Amory moves ahead to his acquisition of the Texas acreage which
became the Black Beauty Ranch sanctuary. He details his decades-long fight to rescue wild
burros, his raison d’etre for establishing the ranch. The chapter, like the entire book, is
packed with laughs, tears, excitement, frustration, and best of all, success.
There are two sections of color photographs in the book, by a number of different
photographers––but the best were shot by Mary Da Ros. If she is not already a professional
wildlife photographer, she could certainly become one.
The chapter concerning wild horses and their history is fascinating. Here we
become acquainted with Velma Johnson, a.k.a. Wild Horse Annie, a feisty lady who went
to bat for the wild horses of Nevada. The material here could feed many movie
scripts––what’s Hollywood waiting for? After a description of Ms. Johnson’s travels that
exhausted me in just the reading, I was gratified to find out that she ultimately succeeded in
The entire book is filled with the ups and downs of animal activism, as Mr.
Amory introduces us to many participants in the animal movement who, though neither
famous nor wealthy, have given unstintingly of their time, talents, and energy to advance
the cause of and protect the animals whom they love.