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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The pictures, however, are not the highlight of the book. That
plaudit belongs to John Graves's excellent introductory essay on the
romantic image of the American cowboy. From his own acquaintances
and experience, Graves draws some keen observations about the so-
called disappearing cowboy and the romance that has always sur-
rounded him. The myth of the noble cowboy prevails because writers
and others ignore the real cowboy's reason for existence, the "hard,
graceful, constant work" (p. 21). Yet they also bemoan his disappear-
ance from the rural scene, displaced by pickup and trailer. Graves,
however, pointedly reminds that "about the time you've put your fare-
well speech together in your head and have started waving a ban-
dana' toward that lone, lean, mounted figure crossing a hogback ridge
into the sunset, another cowboy, maybe not a cultural member of the
vanished brotherhood but tough and able and legitimate nonetheless,
may very well ease up inquisitively beside you and say, 'What the
hell are you doin?' " (p. 24).
In a fifteen-page essay, Graves puts today's real and imitation cow-
boys into a proper relationship with the original model and in so
doing defines the myth of ranch labor in proper perspective. For both
pretender cowboys and ranch historians alike, the essay is required
Texas Tech University DAVID MURRAH
The American Space: Meaning in Nineteenth-Century Landscape
Photography. Edited and with notes by Daniel Wolf. Introduc-
tion by Robert Adams. (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University
Press, 1983. Pp. xii+ 122. List of plates, introduction, photo-
graphs, notes on photographers, glossary of photographic pro-
cesses, suggested reading. $6o.)
This book, beginning with its misleading title, serves no purpose
except as a vehicle for reprinting some well-known nineteenth-century
photographs and serving as a platform for a sermon by the contem-
porary photographer Robert Adams. Despite the title, The American
Space, this book simply does not deal with that subject in any realistic
fashion. We see nothing of the city, which was an important phe-
nomenon of the Gilded Age in terms of space in America. In this
vein, one could make a long list of further omissions that would only
serve to embarrass the authors.
The introduction by Robert Adams is a piece that expresses the


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed October 7, 2015.