The historians in this anthology are vigorously reexamining the role women played in settling the American West. Rarely sacrificing marriage and children, the 16 tough women described here joined men on the wild discomforts of cattle drives.
The biographies defy stereotyping, from conservationist Molly Goodnight to shrewd Lizzie Williams to elusive Willie Matthews. Yet all these Texans flouted the strict roles for 19th-century women, less from rebelliousness than the need to survive on the cattle trails of the American West. —Cynthia Green