Work, Ecology, and Range Cattle Ranchers in the Postwar Mountain West
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
After long days working the ranch, battling human and nonhuman threats, and wrestling with nature, ranchers got down to business of another sort, which Berry calls “cow talk.” Discussing the best new machinery; sharing stories of drought, blizzards, and bugs; talking money and management and strategy: these ranchers were building a community specific to their time, place, and work and creating a language that embodied their culture. Cow Talk explores how this language and its iconography evolved and how it came to provide both a context and a vehicle for political power. Using ranchers’ personal papers, publications, and cattle growers association records, the book provides an inside view of how range cattle ranchers in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana created a culture and a shared identity that would frame and inform their relationship with their environment and with society at large in an increasingly challenging, modernizing world.
A multifaceted analysis of postwar ranch life, labor, and culture, this innovative work offers unprecedented insight into the cohesive political and cultural power of western ranchers in our day.
“Cow Talk highlights the powerful links between group identity and political power, revealing how ranchers secured ongoing social and political influence. This is the story of how ranchers transformed themselves from an unruly herd into one ready for the rigors of the modern trail.”—Joshua Specht, author of Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America
“Detailed and lively, Cow Talk provides great insight into a special interest group that became increasingly politically powerful.”—Rebecca Scofield, author of Outriders: Rodeo at the Fringes of the America West