The Cowgirl Way

Holly George-Warren (Houghton Mifflin, $18)
Holly George-Warren (Houghton Mifflin, $18)

When women moved to the American West with the great migration of the 1800s, they left behind some of the constricting rules of femininity, becoming pioneers, farmers and cowpokes, just like the men.

The term “cowgirl” often evokes singing celluloid cowgirls and fashionistas of cowgirl style. Yet, as many of the photos in this short cowgirl history demonstrate, the women are a tough-looking lot, wearing layers of men’s clothing, carrying rifles and hanging on to bucking broncs. They soon became as iconic as their cowboy brothers. The book provides a survey of personalities and styles of these distinctly American female adventurers. Most interesting, though, is that 21st-century cowgirls have returned to genuine ranch life and horse training, and 2,000 of them are currently professional rodeo riders vying for $4 Million in prizes. Go girls!

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