Endorsements for The Harnessmaker’s Dream

the Harness Maker's Dream

“This is a wonderfully big story, fully told and realized, about the growth of a big state.” – Ken Burns (Documentary Filmmaker)

“The Harness Maker’s Dream has the breadth, depth, and sweep of first-class history. Set in Texas but with universal appeal, well-told, it unfolds how and why America surged through the first two-thirds of the 20th Century. With fast, flowing prose like a historical novel, it is all the more powerful and important because the story is true. Already one of the best reporters of his generation, Nick Kotz brings history alive like David McCullough, Stephen Ambrose, and other modern masters. It’s the kind of book that sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading it!” –Dan Rather (TV News Journalist)

“Every once in awhile there comes along a magnificent work of history and story-telling that demands unbridled praise. The Harness Maker’s Dream is such a book. Nick Kotz recounts the saga and sagacity of his South Texas grandfather with well-researched care and moving, superbly crafted prose. The result is a marvelous history lesson told with the lilt of a novel. It does not get any better than that.” – Jim Lehrer (Executive Editor, PBS NewsHour)

“Add one more chapter to the tale of how Texas became Texas – Nick Kotz’s meticulous and lovingly researched account of how his grandfather at age 17 escaped the marauding Cossacks of Czarist Russia, made his way to America and then San Antonio where he built the largest ranch and farm supply business in the Southwest and became an innovator rancher. A dramatic, inspiring and here to fore little known side of Texas history.” – Bob Schieffer (CBS News, Face the Nation)


From Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Kotz comes his most sweeping and personal book yet—the tale of one family and the rise of South Texas. It is a powerful epic of the twentieth century—from 1890 Russia to America, through the Great Depression and two world wars. The Harness Maker’s Dream tells a true story: how a young immigrant and his growing family built a legendary business and ranch that helped develop modern Texas.

Both historical study and ancestral narrative, Kotz’s book follows Ukrainian teenager Nathan Kallison’s escape from the murderous Cossacks to a brighter future in America. Facing challenges of learning English and earning wages as a harness maker, Kallison quickly adapts to his new Chicago environment. In 1899, after moving to a one-room shop in San Antonio, Kallison and then his sons develop the largest farm and ranch supply business in the Southwest, as well as an innovative cattle ranch teaching fellow ranchers how to embrace modern Texas. With its insight into the cataclysmic events that changed America and the world, The Harness Maker’s Dream prompts readers to consider their own connections to our immigrant past, and recognize the beauty of America’s diverse history.

Watch Nick Kotz on News 4 San Antonio.

Read The San Diego Jewish World’s Review.

Read The Washington Times Review.

Read “BACK STORY: A PULITZER-WINNING JOURNALIST EXAMINES HIS OWN FAMILY” From The Kirkus Review, November 7, 2013.

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