How the Gilded Age Turned Cowboys Into ‘Adventure Heroes’

Cattle Herding May Have Been Boring and Demeaning, But It Seemed Like an Antidote to Soul-Killing Industrial Jobs

It is rare to find cowboys on the silver screen who spend much time performing the humdrum labor—herding cattle—that gave their profession its name. Westerns suggest that cowboys are gun-toting men on horseback, riding tall in the saddle, unencumbered by civilization, and, in Teddy Roosevelt’s words, embodying the “hardy and self-reliant” type who possessed the “manly qualities that are invaluable to a nation.”

But real cowboys—who worked long cattle drives in lonely places like Texas—mostly led lives of numbing tedium, usually on the fringes of society. They were the formerly …

More In: Glimpses

Are Horses ‘God’s Most Perfect Design’?

Keith Carter’s Enigmatic Photographs Reveal the Invisible Bonds Between Humans and Animals

Keith Carter began to take his own pictures after he happened upon one of his mother’s color prints when he was 19. His mother made her living as a studio …

A Disquieting Look at Life Around the Caspian Sea

Photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews Captures the Geography of the Land and the Practices That Connect People to It

The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water, nestled between Europe and Asia, and surrounded by five countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. Through history, the …

Dawoud Bey’s Unwavering Candor

The Chicago-Based Photographer’s Portraits Chronicle the American Experience

To understand how the past 40 years have revolutionized the way we see cities, look at the first and last chapters of a new book on the long and distinguished …