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*“Freedman sets the record straight.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Vaqueros, from vaca, the Spanish word for cow, were Native Americans conscripted by wealthy Spaniards to herd cattle on the Mexican plains. Often barefoot and wearing whatever clothes they had, the vaqueros became spectacular riders and masters of the art of cow herding. Three hundred years later, they taught the settlers to the American West how to round up cattle, bring down a steer, and break a wild bronco. Cowboys picked up their clothing, saddles, and lingo from the vaqueros. But it is the cowboy whose fabled reputation we remember, while the vaquero has all but disappeared from history.
*“Freedman tells the story with depth, clarity, and a vigor that conveys the thrilling excitement of the work and the macho swagger of the culture.”—Booklist, starred review
About the Author
Russell Freedman (1929-2018) received the Newbery Medal for Lincoln: A Photobiography. He was the recipient of three Newbery Honors, a National Humanities Medal, the Sibert Medal, the Orbis Pictus Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lived in New York City and traveled widely to research his books.
"[told] with depth, clarity, and vigor...beautiful, dazzling illustrations...will lure even the most reluctant history student and reader." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
With clear and engaging prose, [Freedman] describes how the 1494 arrival of cattle and horses in Hispaniola led to a need for skilled and rugged horsemen able to control the eventually vast heards. While tracing the geographic spread of the vaqueros' work over time and the tasks and tools involved in the trade, he also weaves in some thought-provoking social history.
School Library Journal
Combining impressive research and the skill of a campfire storyteller, Freedman described the rugged and often violent life of the original "cowboys," as they are known today.
Publishers Weekly, Starred
With clear and economical prose, the ever-capable Freedman combines political, religious, and social history to celebrate the achievements of the largely unsung men who invented the tools and techniques that sustain an American mythos. . . .Lushly illustrated with archival material (including a spectacular sequence of Remington drawings) this fast-paced text brings to light the contributions of the Indians without whom the cowboys might never have existed.
Like Sandler's Vaqueros: America's First Cowmen, this is an exploration of the little-feted precursor to the cowboy. Sandler offers more discussion of the vaquero-cowboy connection, but the ever-reliable Freedman manages to make this overview both more concise and more contextually informative.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
null Children's Books: 100 Titles NYPL
null Booklist, Editor's Choice
Russell Freedman's handsome introduction to the history and work of the vaqueros pays long-overdue tribute to the skillfulness and ingenuity of these early Native-American cowmen.
[Freedman's] descriptive powers engross the reader as he depicts roundups, mustang breaking, slaughtering—the technique of hamstringing is jaw-droppingly explained—and even daily life on the hacienda. Period paintings of men and horses, cattle and land match both the action and the respectful solemnity of the prose.
New York Review of Books —