Great Plains Book of the Month

Each month the Center for Great Plains Studies features one book as its "Great Plains Book of the Month." We carefully choose books that are accessible and on topics of interest and importance for our region. They may be on any subject, of any genre, published within the last couple of years; occasionally we may feature a book published by or written at the Center. Mainly we want to bring attention to what we consider exceptional works both to learn from and enjoy.

December Book of the Month

The Chisholm Trail: Joseph McCoy's Great Gamble

By James Sherow

Details: History, Commerce, Environment

Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press , 2018

In 1868, James, William, and Joseph McCoy were confident that towns such as Abilene, Kansas would provide a quick way to make money. They knew eastern US cities demanded more and more beef, and saw the miles of grasses on the Great Plains and the seemingly endless herds of Texas Longhorns coming up the Chisholm Trail as the way to wealth. It was the youngest brother, Joseph, who saw that it was the intermediaries who would reap the financial benefits. The Chisholm Trail: Joseph McCoy's Great Gamble is the story of how this vision paid off, transforming the cattle trade and, with it, the American landscape and diet. James Sherow’s book vividly describes the interconnections between cattlemen, entrepreneurs, and restaurateurs, as well as between ecology, disease, and technology. Dr. Sherow is a University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University.

“This engaging book, by a leading historian of America’s central plains, clearly and beautifully renders a sense of place and explains how the Texas cattle trade contributed to transforming wild prairie grasslands into today’s domesticated landscape.”

—Jeffrey K. Stine, Curator for Environmental History, Smithsonian Institution.

The Chisholm Trail

Past Great Plains Books of the Month:

American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains, Dan Flores

A Chorus of Cranes: The Cranes of North America and the World, Paul Johnsgard

Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930, Karen Hansen

Wild Again: The Struggle to Save the Black-Footed Ferret, David Jachowski

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor, Joe Starita

Natives of a Dry Place: Stories of Dakota Before the Oil Boom, Richard Edwards

Towards a Prairie Atonement, Trevor Herriot

Walking the Llano, Shelley Armitage

Barnstorming the Prairie, Jason Weems

Homesteading the PlainsRichard Edwards, Rebecca Wingo, Jacob Friefeld

Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology 1867-2017, Edited by Daniel Simon

This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm, Ted Genoways

Grasses of the Great Plains, By James Stubbendieck, Stephan L. Hatch, Cheryl D. Dunn

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, Ann Weisgarber

The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899: Art, Anthropology, and Popular Culture at the Fin de Siècle by Wendy Katz

Jewels of the Plains: Wildflowers of the Great Plains Grasslands and Hills by Claude Barr and James Locklear

Chemical Lands: Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America's Grasslands Since 1945 by David Vail

Converting the Rosebud: Catholic Mission and the Lakota, 1886-1916 by Harvey Markowitz

The Sea of Grass: A Family Tale from the American Heartland by Walter Echo-Hawk

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser.