The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930 Page: 244

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

So, sometimes riding with John Young and sometimes
picking a course on foot far behind him, I have sought to open a
sendero, as we say on the border-a clearing--that will allow people
to behold some of the secrets that the brush has hidden.
"Frequently I have delayed the vaquero in his ride in order to
make clear certain extraordinary and now obscure practices of the
open range before barbed wire revolutionized it--the practices of
the 'hide and tallow factories,' of the 'Skinning War,' of cattle in-
spectors and 'stock meetings,' of brand burners and brand buyers,
and of the manipulators of the 'Big Steal.' I have dwelt long on
the chaos of the open range and the earth-quaking effect of barbed
"Thus the vaquero sometimes rides his way unimpeded, and
again he pickets his horse and goes to sleep while the reader is
invited to examine the terrain. . . . Doubtless this attempt to
blend personal narrative with impersonal explanation, which is,
however, replete with narrative incident, has resulted in some queer
proportions. Frankly, the only guide to proportion has been a
wish to include what is pertinent, interesting, freshly illuminat-
ing, and authentic-authentic folk-yarns, for example."
No one who reads beyond the preface will be long in doubt that
the author-editor attained his end. The book is "interesting" and
"illuminating," and the historical chapters are as authentic as an
industrious and critical exploration of a wide range of sources can
make them. From the point of view of factual contribution, the
most important chapters are, perhaps, those describing the early
packeries on the Gulf coast, the border raids out of and into Mex-
ico, the efforts to establish order by extinguishing cattle thieves
and desperadoes, and the methods of tallying and buying and sell-
ing cattle by brands. The interest and the value of the book, how-
ever, lie not in particular chapters or the treatment of specific
topics, but in the vivid re-creation of the life of an era and a sec-
tion. Mr. Dobie and his friend, John Young, have made a con-
tribution to the history of Texas and the literature of the West
which more pretentious historians will read with gratitude and


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930, periodical, 1930; Austin, Texas. ( accessed September 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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