Books by Cleveland Amory

Released: Nov. 1, 1997

Cruelty is disgusting, and Amory (The Best Cat Ever, 1993, etc.) paints it just so in this story of the haven he helped create for animals suffering from every rank and radius of human abuse. By now Amory is perhaps better known for his advocacy of the decent treatment of animals than for his reviews in TV Guide, and his ranch in east Texas—Black Beauty Ranch, after the book chronicling the frightful abuse of the eponymous horse—is gaining a like reputation. There, animals are allowed to do as they please in a place they feel belongs to them (though ranch hands keep a weather eye out for them). Here Amory tells the stories of various animals and how they made their way to Black Beauty; the tales are by and large horrific, though most have happy endings. Amory is a wry companion whose aristocratic humor sparkles with a biting contempt for all those who would do harm to animals, from the US Navy, which allowed rare Andalusian goats to be shot for sport on one of its shelling ranges, to the National Park Service, with its cruel treatment of burros and buffalo, and the Bureau of Land Management, equally guilty in its handling of wild horses. He also gets in good clean digs at the much-heralded San Diego Zoo, where elephants are splayed and soundly beaten with ax handles if they prove too spunky. Not all is anecdotal as Amory includes an intelligent history of the horse, an explanation of brucellosis and how it relates to the shooting of buffalo that wander out of Yellowstone Park, and additional background information that makes supposedly ``humane'' extermination of animals look barbaric. Amory's simple point—that our treatment of animals should be governed by the rules of common decency and respect—is stated convincingly, with brio and great dignity. (16 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour; TV satellite tour) Read full book review >
THE BEST CAT EVER by Cleveland Amory
Released: Oct. 26, 1993

Fans of Amory's delightful cat books (The Cat and the Curmudgeon, 1990; The Cat Who Came for Christmas, 1987) may find this third and final volume in the series disappointing: It's really more a memoir of Amory's college days and writing career than an account of his famed relationship with his much beloved feline, Polar Bear. This isn't to say, however, that Amory's life hasn't been interesting. As he travels with Polar Bear to reunions at Milton Academy and Harvard, we find out much about his prep school and university days. With the help of Katharine Hepburn and her family, he landed a plum editorial job right out of college with the Saturday Evening Post and soon was spending a summer in France hobnobbing with celebrities as a guest of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. (He was supposed to ghostwrite an autobiography of the Duchess, but the project never got off the ground.) Later, Amory achieved his own fame, spending 14 years as a critic for TV Guide. (The hilarious excerpts from his 1963-76 column—write-ups on Queen for a Day, Let's Make a Deal, etc.—are one of the highlights here.) The two concluding chapters, about the declining health of both Amory and his cat—they both become arthritic; Amory gets hit by a truck; Polar Bear develops incurable kidney problems—are the most compelling, and Amory's moving account of his decision to put his dear companion of 15 years to sleep is heartrending. Happily, his eventual adoption of a new waif, Tiger Bear, ends matters on an uplifting note. Not the best cat book ever—but R.I.P., Polar Bear. (B&W line drawings throughout) Read full book review >