Cattle on a Thousand Hills

The Cattle on a Thousand Hills: Southern California, 1850–1880

Written by:Robert Glass Cleland
Category:Western History
Format:368 pages, 6 x 9, illus. (paperback)
Release Date:2005-03-02

Price: $24.95

About this Book

Well received by critics when first published in 1941, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills describes Southern California in its transition from a cattle frontier of Mexican rule and culture to an agricultural American community on the eve of great industrial and urban expansion. The story includes the conversion of great grazing ranchos into farms and settlements, the gradual displacement of frontier violence and instability by a more restrained, law-abiding society, and the impact of Anglo-Saxon customs and institutions upon the pastoral life of the Spanish-Californians.



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About the Author
Robert Glass Cleland (1885-1957) was Professor of History at Occidental College and the author and editor of numerous books on the history of California and Mexico.


Reviews for Cattle on a Thousand Hills:


"This is the book to read if one wishes to know what Southern California was like."—Westways


"A first-rate portrait of the pastoral life of Spanish California undergoing sharp changes under the impact of the new Anglo-Saxon civilization."—New York Herald Tribune

"The Cattle on a Thousand Hills is without a peer as a broad, rich, specific, and authenticated description of southern California in transition . . . Professor Cleland's book is written with a great deal of charm and is a striking illustration of the wealth of material in the Huntington Library."—The Mississippi Valley Historical Review

"As you read, you grow into the lives of the people, Californians and Yankees, and begin to see the era as you never could without the book."—Los Angeles Times

"A Book of the Old West; of the social and economic history of Southern California with the grazing ranches, its hectic frontier days, and the disturbing violence that reached a spectacular climax in the Gold Rush and the building of the cross-country railroad."—New York Times


"The book provides about as good a jumping-off place for a modern day researcher into early California as can be found."—Jim Crutchfield, Roundup Magazine


"A vivid and mature portrayal of local history, of the impact of Anglo-Saxon customs and institutions on the simple pastoral life of the Spanish Californians."—Geographical Review. 



Reviews of earlier editions:


“No Californian should miss this book by one of our noted historians.” – Los Angeles Times, 1941

“Too much praise cannot be given to Dr. Cleland’s fine work.” – The Historical Society of Southern California – Quarterly Book Reviews

The Cattle on a Thousand Hills… carries the reader along through state annexation (1848_, the gold rush (1849), introduces him to the almost unbelievable ranch life of the seventies an the population increase that brought industrial development…as thrilling to read as any novel.  Altogether a valuable reference, and a mot readable, interesting history.” – The Malibu Times

“Though focused on the Los Angeles area, the book is in part a commentary on the ills the whole state was a prey to.  It is especially informative on such matters as Indian depredations, cattle rustling , homicides and holdups, lawlessness, and vigilante action… The narrative is set forth in a style distinguished for clarity … and the book is extraordinarily rich in suggestions of  topics for further investigation.” – American Historical Review


“Dr. Cleland’s… book is far more than a history textbook; it is also a book of romantic adventure… For anyone interested in a good account of some of our west’s most fascinating history, this is a book well worth reading both for its wealth of information and for downright enjoyment.” – Daily News Digest


“[Cleland’s] account is expository, giving reasons but not announcing conclusions.  The result is a volume highly stimulating to further research…Much of it is pioneer work and is worthy of our warmest commendation.” – Pacific Historical Review


The Cattle on a Thousand Hills is rich in source material of the era, centering about some 15,000 items… In a sensitive prose, Cleland has caught characteristics of native life.  It is the traditions of the open range, which give form to the theme of The Cattle on a Thousand Hills.” – San Francisco Examiner


“The first edition of this attractive and valuable study was published in 1941…. The whole forms a welcome contribution in well organized form to the history of California’s major regions…Cleland is master of his material, and the account he provides enables us to follow the rise, maximum development, and decline of the day of the rancheros. “ – Southwestern Historical Quarterly


“As a historian who makes the vanished past live again,…Cleland has reconstructed an epoch which until now has been to students of Southern California history a vague, transitional borderland between Spanish-California and the beginnings of our modern state… Cleland has seen the pageantry of an epoch and recorded it glowingly and faithfully for posterity.” – Pasadena Star News

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