review: Cowboys (old-school non-fiction from National Geographic)

My favorite Singing Cowboys? Riders in the Sky, of course.

My favorite real cowboy? Mac Morrow

That’s him on the horse.

In the mid-70s, National Geographic published this kids book, showing the real life of cowboy Mac Morrow.

Yep, he rides and ropes, but he also fixes stuff, repairs fences and horses around with his kids. Sometimes he loads the horses in a trailer. I love the picture of his wife and daughter on horseback.

This book isn’t always pretty. They have a shot of a calf getting branded that I’m always glad to skip over.

The book really seems to give a nice, honest look at Mac’s life. As a journalist, I respect their attention to truth with a lower case “t”. On page 4, there’s a wide landscape shot with a cowboy in it. The easily could have called the cowboy Mac. No one would have known the difference. But like a dogged reporter, they are willing to lessen the impact of the story and just call him “this cowboy.” (However, some of the photos do seem a tad staged. It’s hard to say.)

I don’t have any other Nat. Geo. books and I wonder how many they made. It seems natural to take the photos collected for one of their stories and put them with simple, direct text. I wish they were still doing it (instead of publishing DREK like their shameful, shameful kids magazine.) Mac’s simple story is the opposite of that nonsense.

I wonder what happened to Mac. If he was in his 30s when the book was written, he’d be in his late 60s now and I hope he’s still riding out there somewhere.


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