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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Book Reviews

its potential importance to the field of family history is significantly
Crafting a Southwestern Masterpiece: . Evetts Haley and "Charles Goodnight:
Cowman and Plainsman." By B. Byron Price. (Midland, Tex.: Nita
Stewart Haley Memorial Library [81o5 W. Indiana, Midland, Tex.
79701], 1986. Pp. 68. Acknowledgments, illustrations, notes, in-
dex. $20.)
This is a book about a book and the men who produced it. The au-
thor analyzes how the friendship of an eminent cowman-plainsman
(ninety-one-year-old Charles Goodnight) with a young Texas cowman-
historian (twenty-six-year-old J. Evetts Haley) and a talented Texas il-
lustrator (Harold D. Bugbee) resulted in "the greatest biography of a
cowman ever written."
Everything about the project was vast in scope and time consuming.
Even the life of Charles Goodnight (1836-1929) was lengthy and
eventful. Among his accomplishments he blazed the Goodnight-Loving
and Goodnight trails, which provided a route from Fort Beknap,
Texas, northward through New Mexico to Colorado and eventually to
Cheyenne, Wyoming. This route became the most important course
for cattle driven westward from Texas, "a trail burned deep into the
memories of men by bloody Indian warfare, drouthy drives and dying
cattle, dry water holes and alkali dust, tragic death and bitter disap-
pointment," according to Haley. Goodnight survived to ninety-three
with his memory amazingly accurate.
Only because the aging cowman communicated completely with the
young historian was it possible for the tales to be preserved. The men
can be compared to James Boswell and Samuel Johnson in their em-
pathy. Both were sired in an Emersonian belief that self-reliance was
required of Texans; each prided himself on being a cattleman first.
A decade (1925-1936) was devoted to research and to writing the
The third ingredient required was an illustrator. Difficult decisions
were confronted; originally, photographs were considered necessary.
Fortunately a young Texas artist, Harold D. Bugbee, accepted the task of
working with the two volatile personalities. The collaboration of the three
men resulted in Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plaznsman, published by
Houghton-Mifflin in 1936 and favorably reviewed by the critics.
B. Byron Price relates how the chemistry between these typical Tex-
ans resulted in a biography that has become a classic, one that today is


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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