Nick Kotz

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Nick Kotz (Broad Run, VA)

Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist, American history author/expert


Ashley Lauretta | | 512-501-4399 ext 712 | Twitter: @ashley_lauretta



  • Renowned journalist for the Washington Post and Des Moines Register, author and historian whose work has received top honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting
  • From national defense to civil rights, his six books focus on a broad range of issues in American history, while simultaneously challenging the nation’s present.
  • Best known for Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Laws that Changed America (Houghton Mifflin) and Wild Blue Yonder: Money, Politics, and the B-1 Bomber (Pantheon)
  • His latest book, The Harness Maker’s Dream (TCU Press) has been praised for its eloquent depiction of early Jewish immigrants’ lives in Texas, and their later significant impacts on society, culture, and the economy.


  • Uncovering family roots: Tips from a seasoned reporter on finding—and telling—your family’s unique story
  • Pulitzer-winning journalist shares his most intimate investigative work yet
  • The untold story of Jewish heritage in the Lone Star State
  • How a Russian refugee helped bring up South Texas
  • One immigrant’s pursuit of the American dream: How a Jewish merchant immigrant became one of Texas’ most prominent ranchers
  • The untold stories of America’s immigrants, and why we’ve lost so much family history

When Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Nick Kotz began researching the history of the ranch his family had owned, he never imagined all he would unearth about his grandfather’s only in American story. Following decades of bylines for The Washington Post and Des Moines Register on issues from civil rights to national defense, the veteran journalist made a fascinating discovery: an untold chapter of how Texas became Texas.

In his new book, The Harness Maker’s Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas, Kotz provides a moving account of his ancestors’ search for the American dream. Both historical study and ancestral narrative, it chronicles the history of a Jewish family instrumental to the growth of San Antonio and the entire South Texas region.

The book centers on Kotz’s grandfather, Ukrainian immigrant Nathan Kallison, and his flight to the U.S. to escape murderous Cossacks. One of more than two million Jews who fled anti-Semitic law in Czarist Russia and Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th Century, Kallison and his brothers pursued 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 not only adapted to his new environment, he founded the largest farm and ranch supply businesses in the Southwest—a “big box” store 50 years ahead of its time—and eventually ran one of the region’s most innovative ranches. And despite enormous changes in environment and lifestyle, Kallison and his wife managed to maintain their cultural heritage by raising their children in the Jewish faith.


“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 storytelling 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 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, CBS News, Face the Nation

“This is a wonderfully big story, fully told.”

–Ken Burns, Documentary Filmmaker

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