Let the Cowboy Ride: Cattle Ranching in the American West (Creating the North American Landscape) Paperback – March 17, 2000
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This is an important book, a contribution both to scholarship and to urgent public debate. Few of its readers will find their view of the American West unchanged, and those few will probably be of Starrs's party already.(Hugh Brogan Times Literary Supplement)
Paul Starrs takes us on a lively, insightful ride through the varied ranch lands of the American West. Drawing skillfully on his visits to many different ranching areas, he clearly illuminates the difficulties confronting ranchers yesterday and today. Starrs also levels sharp criticisms at U.S. western land policy. Even readers who disagree with his prescriptions will find Starrs a stimulating, often provocative guide.(Richard W. Slatta, author of The Cowboy Encyclopedia and Cowboys of the Americas)
Starrs's magisterial book redefines our understanding of the neglected subject of western livestock ranching. He shows the centrality of ranching in the complex and contentious relationship between fiercely independent westerners and historic federal government policies. Starrs provides a thoughtful and vivid overview while simultaneously deciphering five specific land tenure histories. The history of western ranching has a new champion.(John Opie, author of Nature's Nation)
From the Back Cover
- Item Weight : 1.75 pounds
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0801863511
- ISBN-13 : 978-0801863516
- Dimensions : 7 x 0.94 x 10 inches
- Publisher : Johns Hopkins University Press (March 17, 2000)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,500,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Unfortunately, it's often weirdly organized. The chapters don't tell a chronological story, and they don't really organize around an analytical story. There's a group of chapters on "legacy" at the start and a group on the "future" at the end, with case studies of five counties in the middle. But the "future" chapters include a lot of the past, and the "legacy" chapters mix history, lifestyle, politics, geography, and literature reviews in ways that I never could sort out in my mind. The best single chapter, with an overview of his major themes, was Chapter 4. That's an odd place to put your overview.
The presentation could also be better oriented to the reader. For example, Starrs will refer to something, like the Kincaid Act or the Spanish Mesta, without defining it. Then, dozens of pages later after the initial reference, the object may (or may not) be explained. There is a glossary at the end, if you happen to notice it - - but here, as in many books, a glossary is a substitute for thinking through the best way to present the material so that the reader doesn't need a glossary.
Starrs is at his best when he's not trying to wrestle with the general, but instead telling stories about specific places. His five chapters on western counties are very interesting. He's selected these well, with a mix of landholding patterns, ethnic make-ups, and histories. You'll emerge from each of these chapters with a strong sense of place, and with a good sense of how to compare these counties with one another. Those middle chapters deserve at least four stars. Alas, the strangely-organized presentation of the (albeit interesting) material before and after them drags the book down.