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the harness maker's dream by nick kotzThe Harness Maker's Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas

by Nick Kotz


320 pages, 6 x 9 • Cloth $25.95
ISBN 978-0-87565-567-3

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Kotz chronicles the history of the Kallisons, a Jewish family instrumental to the growth of San Antonio, Texas.


Both historical study and ancestral narrative, The Harness Maker’s Dream follows the story of Ukrainian immigrant Nathan Kallison’s journey to the United States in search of a brighter future. At the turn of the twentieth century, over two million Jews emigrated from Czarist Russia and Eastern Europe to escape anti-Semitic law. Seventeen-year-old Kallison and his brothers were among those brave enough to escape persecution and pursue a life of freedom by leaving their homeland in 1890. Faced with the challenges of learning English and earning wages as a harness maker, Kallison adapts to his new environment.


Kallison moves to San Antonio, Texas, where he finds success by founding one of the largest farm and ranch supply businesses in South Texas and eventually running one of the region’s most innovative ranches. Despite enormous changes in environment and lifestyle, Nathan Kallison and his beloved wife Anna manage to maintain their cultural heritage by raising their children in the Jewish faith, teaching them that family values and a strong sense of character are more important than any worldly achievement.


The son of Nathan Kallison’s daughter Tibe, author Nick Kotz provides a moving account of his ancestors’ search for the American dream. Kotz’s work has received recognition by the Texas Jewish Historical Society for eloquently depicting the reality of life for Jewish immigrants in Texas during this time and delineating their significant contributions to society. Kotz’s insight into the life of this inspiring individual will prompt readers to consider their own connections to America’s immigrant past and recognize the beauty of our nation’s diverse history.

  • 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

  • “Every once in a while there comes along a magnificent work of history and story-telling that demands unbridle 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

  •  “This is a wonderfully big story, fully told and realized, about the growth of a big state." 

    Ken Burns

  • “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 Cossack 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

San Antonio-born Nick Kotz is a renowned author, journalist, and historian whose work has received top honors in his field, including the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Washington Correspondence, the Raymond Clapper Memorial Award, the National Magazine Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award. With subjects ranging from labor unions to the civil rights movement, Kotz’s books focus on a broad range of issues in American history, while simultaneously challenging the nation’s present. Kotz earned a degree from Dartmouth College, pursued graduate studies at the London School of Economics, and continued his commitment to education by serving as a distinguished adjunct professor at the American University School of Communications and completing a semester as the Senior Journalist in Residence at Duke University. He now lives with his wife, author Mary Lynn Kotz, on their cattle farm in Broad Run, Virginia.