Tall Tales: Tales of the Wild West

Bonanza Publishing
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A tall tale begins innocently with convincing facts and a few trivial details thrown in. But in the course of the story the limits of believability are stretched to the breaking point. ln the end we are left wondering how we could have been so naive, so darn gullible.

America's tall tales have been handed down through generations and are tirmly rooted in character, situation and landscape. In the past a skillfully-told yarn was a diversion from the drudgery and monotony of everyday life and tellers of tall tales were held in high regard because their stories made people laugh.

A tall tale is best enjoyed when told aloud. Dialect, intonation and gestures add to the story. A pause here. A shake of the head there. A practiced laugh. A wink, a sly smile or a deadpan look provide seasoning and can communicate as much as a well-placed word.

In our modern fast-paced world, dominated by instant communication, changing technology and constant entertainment, the tall tale is no longer considered an essential part of everyday life. As a result, the telling of tall tales has become a dying art form.
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Additional Information

Bonanza Publishing
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Published on
Apr 30, 1997
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Best For
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Fiction / Westerns
Juvenile Fiction / Westerns
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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The men who ride the open range of the far West are known under a variety of names: vaquero, range rider, mustanger and buckaroo, but the name most commonly known is cowboy. The nature of a cowboy's work demands independence and toughness. He is a man of action; yet the long, lonely hours spent in the saddle provide ample time to develop a unique outlook on life. Simply put, a cowboy's tenet is, 'What cannot be cured is endured.' And endured with cheerfulness and good humor. It is far better to joke about the droughts, windstorms, blizzards, outlaw mustangs and loco cattle than to complain.

The cowboy would never have existed without his horse. Like the cowboy, the horse is referred to by an assortment of names: mustang, bronco, cayuse and, sometimes, jughead, broomtail, nag, hay burner, plug and other even less complimentary epithets. The ancestors of the western horse date back to the animals brought to America by Cortez and the conquistadores. As the Spanish mounts escaped, were lost or stolen, the horse began its phenomenal spread across western North America.

The high desert was first settled by daring stockmen who drove in foundation herds, numbering in the thousands. The cattle thrived on the native grasses and when the steers were ready for market, cowboys on horseback drove them to railroad towns in the Midwest. With the invention of barbed wire in 1874 and an influx of homesteaders who claimed waterholes and divided up the range, the heyday of the big outfits and their cowboys passed into history. But as long as there is open sky, rimrock, bunch grass, sagebrush and juniper, cowboys will still ride the range.
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