The Cattle Kings

The Cattle Kings

Legendary Ranchers of the Old West
Lewis Atherton, foreword by Timothy Lehman
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/01/2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03901-9
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Cowboys, gunslingers, and superpowered marshals dominate fictionalized accounts of the American West, but they were minor figures in the true history of the region. In The Cattle Kings, Lewis Atherton restores the leading role to the cattlemen—the genuine adventurers who opened the plains, built empires, and brought prosperity, law, and order to the West.

This classic history of the West tells the true stories of rugged cattlemen like Charles Goodnight, Shanghai Pierce, the Lang family, the Marquis de Mores, and Richard King, who were attracted by the challenge of the frontier and the astounding economic opportunities it offered. Self-reliant and progressive, these young individualists revolutionized ranching. The new industry transformed the West, bringing law and order to infamous sin towns like Abilene and Dodge City and leaving an indelible mark on America's national history and character. Atherton dramatically recreates the realities and economics of everyday life on the ranches, including the role of women, attitudes toward education and religion, and the philosophy of the cattle region. Now with an updated foreword by Western historian Timothy Lehman, this new edition of a beloved classic reveals the true heroes of the legendary cattle kingdoms that created the West.

Author Bio

Lewis Atherton wrote several books on American history, including Main Street on the Middle Border and The Pioneer Merchant in Mid-America. Hewas Professor of History at the University of Missouri, Director of the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection,and the first recipient of the University's Distinguished Faculty Award in 1960.

Timothy Lehman is Professor of History and Political Science at Rocky Mountain College and the author of Public Values, Private Lands: American Farmland Preservation Policy, 1933 and Bloodshed at Little Bighorn: Sitting Bull, Custer, and the Destinies of Nations.


“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.”
 — Kirkus Reviews

“Stimulating and rewarding.”
 — Indiana Magazine of History

“The new image of the cattle country that emerges from Atherton's pages is no less romantic than the prior stereotype; he writes vividly and describes cattle wars and cowtown disorders with as much gusto as authors unrestrained by the truth.”
 — The Chicago Tribune

“Freshly diverting, smartly written, and probably the best critical review ever presented on this complex subject.”
 — Agricultural History

“Anyone considering American entrepreneurship, social history, or the American West will have to consult it.”
 — Mississippi Valley Historical Review

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Timothy Lehman

1. Change and Continuity

2. Why Be a Cattleman?

3. Code of the WEst

4. Live and Let Live

5. The MOderating Hand of Woman

6. The Cult of the Self-Made Man

7. God's Elect

8. Changing Tides of Fortune

9. Land, Labor, and Capital

10. Poker on Joint-Stock Principles

11. The Vanguard of Change

12. Cattleman and Cowboy: Fact and Fancy

13. The Cattleman's Role in American Culture