THE CATTLE KINGS by Lewis Atherton


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Paralleling to some extent Mari Sandoz' The Cattlemen (to which the author gives due credit), this carefully documented book deals less with the legends and minor characters of the Western cattle kingdom than it does with its rulers, the men who made and lost fortunes in cattle and left their mark on the American West lying between Texas and Montana. The region is a vast one and the cattle kings were no pygmies. Dealing in land, politics, high finance as well as cattle, some of them were men of great ability and basic integrity, such as Charley Goodnight and John W. Iliff, with ranches spread over the West, and Richard King of Texas. Others managed ranches, like those of the Matador Company, for foreign entrepreneurs (many of whom were Scotsmen); still others were speculators of dubious financial morals, like Alexander Hamilton Swan, who played for millions and lost. Owen Wister in The Virginian, Russell and Remington in their paintings, today's paperbacked ""Westerns"" and TV programs, make the cowboy a figure of romance and neglect the men who hired him and their problems, which were many: drought and cowboy strikes; cattle fever and the difficulties of finding good ranch managers and bosses; the panic of 1873 and the blizzard of 1886; finally, the incursion of settlers, which brought about the ""Little War of Johnson County"" and the end of the open range. Containing little glamour and much neglected history, this excellent book will appeal to students of the West, Old and New, and to addicts of history who prefer fact to fireworks; it belongs in all comprehensive collections of Western Americana.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1961
ISBN: 0803257597
Publisher: Indiana University Press