Book Signing: Gentleman Jim Key


The most famous entertainer of the early 20th century was not a person but a horse. "Beautiful Jim Key," as he was known, was a native of Shelbyville and was famous as a horse who could add and subtract, spell, and do all manner of human tasks, even play cards. He appeared to wild acclaim throughout the country and drew the largest crowd of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The Atlanta Consitution said that Jim Key had "the soul of a gentleman and a scholar." More notably, Jim was owned and trained by a former slave, confederate soldier, and Union spy named Dr. William Key. Dr. Key was a self-taught veterinarian and was famous for his gentle training. Dr. Key was the original horse-whisperer, and is reputed to have coined the phrase "Be Kind to Animals." Native Tennessean Mim Eichler Rivas has written a book (just released in paperback) entitled Beautiful Jim Key (Harper 2005) which tells the story of this extraordinary horse, of a time of peace and prosperity in America, and of the birth of the animal rights movement. Rivas will read and sign at Borders Books on West End Avenue at 6:00 p.m. on May 3.

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