We often hear or say things like, “the movie just wasn’t like the book”, or, “the book wasn’t as good as the movie”. When commenting on a work based on a real person or happening there are also conflicts between realty and journalism. For some of us it is not enough to just speculate about what really happened People like me feel compelled to delve into the history of the story. We seek out those who have first hand knowledge of the incidents and people depicted in literature or cinema. There are some who lean the other way and view movies as documentaries rather than entertainment.
When Bill Key and I read Fire on the Mountain, by Edward Abbey, we vaguely recalled the movie. We then began to recall stories of the real life circumstances that inspired the novel. It is the story of a rancher who is told that he must leave his land behind and move on because the US Army needs his ranch for the expansion of White Sands Missile Range. The rancher was named John Prather and he raised mules for the Army on the Otero Mesa. He told the officials that he wasn’t going to leave and would spend the rest of his life on his ranch.