Wild Horse Country: The History, Myth, and Future of the Mustang, America's Horse

Norton. Oct. 2017. 368p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780393247138. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393635300. NAT HIST
OrangeReviewStarPhilipps, a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of Lethal Warriors, chronicles the history of wild horses, known as mustangs, in the United States from their earliest prehistory to their current standing in a country that both manages and mismanages their survival. This history also tells of their use during the era of Spanish conquistadors, their place in a Westward-expanding nation, and even their utilization as dog food. Philipps describes mustangs as, "the hoofed version of Jeffersonian Democracy," and how they embody American concepts of freedom and wildness. Using contemporary and historical primary and secondary sources as well as on-site investigative reporting, the author exposes government efforts to control wild horse populations via science and by warehousing thousands of animals each year; a costly and gruesome story. Readers might find tactics by the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for managing the herds, shocking and the fate of the horses heart-wrenching.
VERDICT This is a story that needs to be told, especially in today's political climate and the debate over preservation of nature. Libraries with environmental history collections will want to add this to their shelves.
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