Casey’s Library- A Cowboy’s Guide to Great Literature: 2020

With only a partial year of book reviews under our belt, the last few months featured some of our favorites. The 2020 list is pretty manageable and if you missed any throughout the last few months, be sure to add them to your cart and reading “to-do” list now. There’s something for everyone, with a wide variety of subjects and even some with primarily pictures. Here’s our 2020 list review:

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Coffee Table Books

They’re large and attractive and look great on display. Visitors will love flipping through the colorful pages and you might find yourself revisiting theses books time and time again. They make great gifts too. We received a signed copy of “In the Herd” as a gift from my aunt. It will be cherished and we plan to pass it down to a long legacy of horse lovers in our family.

Dust and Smoke-Tough Cowboys and Good Horses Photography by Rene A Heil

This book is 167 pages of “cool pictures”. The photography really captures the different styles of branding. Nothing describes the techniques and practices used on various ranches better than great pictures.

“I don’t care who you are- you can look at the same picture many times and you’ll notice something different each time.”


In the Herd- A Photographic Journey with the Chincoteague Ponies and Assateague Horses by Jayne M. Silberman

This book tells the story of the Chincoteague Ponies and Assateague Horses with the 157 pages of text and photographs. Not only the horses and ponies in their natural habitat in Maryland and Virginia, but regional wildlife and natural landscapes are pictured. The narrative shares the history of the animals and current practices used to manage the herds. This is the real story of the children’s book “Misty of Chincoteague”. Flip through the pages and immerse yourself in a true horse adventure as the horses play on the beach, swim the bay and even find new homes as part of the relocation and management program.

The American West of the 1800 and early 1900’s- Cowboys, Indians & Other Adventurers

These historical, true stories, will teach you and entertain you while you learn about a variety of parties involved in the creation of the American West: from the Commanche Indians, to the Cowpunchers on the cattle drives, to adventurers and outdoorsmen, like Kit Carson. You’ll become smarter after reading these books without even trying.

National Bestseller, Blood and Thunder, The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West, by Hampton Sides

Blood and Thunder is the retelling of Kit Carson’s life- an illiterate, uneducated man, but one who had great outdoor’s man skills. The US heavily relied on him to conquer the West. The book demonstrates how an individual can become an important part of American history without him even wanting the recognition. Casey **** (4 star rating)

New York Times Best Seller, Empire of the Summer Moon, Quannah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, by S.C Gwynne

Empire of the Summer Moon is a non-fiction book perfect for anyone who likes American Indian history. The book tells the story of Quannah and his white mother who was captured by the Commanche as a young girl. Quannah, (half Commanche) along with his brother and sister, grow up as Commanches, and he becomes a Commanche warrior. The book describes the way of life of the tough and dominant Commanche tribe. The story line is easy to follow and is fairly light reading. Casey ***** (5 star rating)

We Pointed Them North, the Recollection of a Cowpuncher, by E.C. “Teddy Bear” Abbott and Helena Huntington Smith

We Pointed Them North is a collection of some of the best told cattle stories from the 1800’s. It features struggles along the trail, not just the romanticized view we hear about today. The book provides detailed descriptions from the cattle trail and the life of a true cowpuncher. Casey ***** (5 star rating)

Cattle Kingdom The Hidden History of the Cowboy West by Christopher Knowlton

Cattle Kingdom illustrates the huge influence of European foreign capital in the early cattle industry. In the late 1800’s, during the cattle boom, with a stronghold in the west, everyone wanted to take advantage of the cattle industry.

This book is interesting and educational. It’s a little slower moving, but is a great example of how money influences any business and skews the outcome. When some thing looks good, everyone wants to jump in, but often times its too late.

In addition to the cattle industry storyline, Cattle Kingdom also features a side story of Teddy Roosevelt. It depicts how the West formed him and influenced him throughout his life.

The Killers of the Flower Moon The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

This #1 New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Finalist, is about the unsolved mystery murders of the Osage Indians during the 1920’s. The book also describes the formation of the FBI as the government assembles a team as an attempt to solve these murders in particular.

This true story is very interesting and eye-opening. It touches on a part of history we’ve never learned about. The Osage Indians in Oklahoma were put on the poorest ground only to find it to be oil rich. Osage Indians became the richest people per capita at the time, not because of gold, but because of oil. Despite their wealth, they still couldn’t fully prosper and this book demonstrates the reasons why.

You’ll be not only be gaining knowledge but will also get the opportunity to relive the history of the American West while immersing yourself in these books.

Buy one, or all, of these great-for-anyone books now by clicking on the following links. Blood and Thunder, Empire of the Summer Moon, We Pointed Them North

Meaningful Titles

With two horses entered into a fall 2020 futurity and auction, Hondo & Yuma (the horses) took priority at our ranch for much of the summer. After training and riding the horses, showing and then selling them, the next step only seemed logical to read the books with the same titles. Here are the reviews for “Leaving Yuma” and “Hondo“.

Leaving Yuma A Western Story from the American Legends Collection By Michael Zimmer

Leaving Yuma is historical western fiction at its finest. It is an easy read that will keep you wanting more. It has a good plot and enough drama to keep you hooked.

This story features a Yuma prisoner, on the verge of his own death, that’s chosen for a special mission. Because of his tracking ability and his knowledge of the land, he’s offered a pardon in exchange for leading authorities through the desert into Mexico to find a family taken by the Mexicans. The journey also leads them through Indian territory and harsh conditions. This story with twists and turns, surrounded by historical facts from the time period is sure to keep you reading.

Hondo By Louis L’amour

This novel, one of Louis L’amour’s Lost Treasures, is an awesome book. It draws you into the story by incorporating a love interest into the main plot, all while describing the struggle to stay alive in Apache Country.

This book was also made into a movie staring John Wayne. If you haven’t seen the movie- watch it. If you’ve seen it, but haven’t read the book, I still recommend it.

The horses may have left the ranch, but we’ll always have memories, and now the paperback books with the same names in our library.

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