On the Trail of Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America
by Lisa K. Winkler
From the very beginning, I was also ‘riding a horse’ on this amazing trip. The author does not overplay the excitement, nor does she avoid the challenges. It takes planning and work to follow one’s dream.
Without repeating other reviews on the details, this book satisfies on inspiration and history. Memories came to mind of our drive from Massachusetts to CA with two teenagers. The stares we got were directed at our license plate. We had friends to stay with and family at the end. I will never forget the crowd of hotel employees in San Francisco who said they rarely see MA plates. Driving back, it seemed a really long way.
I took an old book with WPA research of roads built before interstates. It had cost $0.10. Each point along these quaint state and county roads were described with points of interest. We would never have arrived at our destination if I had been allowed to direct us to every waterfall, statue and museum.
Like this cowboy, we strayed sufficiently to make the trip interesting and educational. My daughter kept a travel journal. It captured the spirit of the adventure.
Miles Dean’s descriptions of the historical sites and people he saw kept me wondering, Where is he going next? Will he mention Cathay Williams as a Buffalo Soldier? Yes. How much is still in his journal? How much did the author have to research? I did not want him to come to the end of the journey.
What can you learn in addition to the tale?
It is rich in information about horses and today’s cowboys. It weaves together the past and the present. It can be a resource for home and school. The author poses questions at the end for discussion and further study. She provides a bibliography and offers a study guide, if needed.
Who should read this book?
Fathers should read this aloud to their boys. Mothers and girls will love the story of how to follow your dreams. All will gain knowledge about the country and its unique history. Teachers and creative artists should find much material to build on. All will be enriched. I cannot wait for the movie!
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