Ambling along the cattle trails of the midwest as Texas-based cowboys take their meat to market. Loosely arranged in mini-chapters in roughly chronological order, this has few pretensions as social history--contemporary events are mentioned in passing--but changes are noted: the value of the Longhorns declines and the approach of modern machinery is always around the bend. Odd details are engaging: the heat generated by a stampede; the substitution of parched okra or canned corn for coffee; the importance of the only sewing needle around; the sight of forty Comanches on horseback with parasols. Besides some familiar names and stories (Crockett, Bowie, Colt, Chisholm, Stetson), there are observations from countless unknowns, many of them teenagers, often short on sleep. Basic advice: ""Keep one eye on the boss, and two on the herd."" Of west Texas: everything ""either sticks, stings, or stinks."" A long trip which conveys the nitty-gritty of cowboy life but has little else to commend it.