In the Days of the Vaqueros by Russell Freedman
America's First True Cowboys

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In this rousing account of the first true cowboys, Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman brings to life the days when the vaqueros rounded up cattle, brought down steers, and tamed wild broncos. In the service of wealthy Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century, Mexican ranch hands began herd- ing cattle, often riding barefoot. They soon developed and perfected the skills for this dangerous work and became expert horsemen. Hundred of years later the vaqueros shared their expertise with the inexperienced cowboys of the American West, who adopted their techniques and their distinctive clothing, tools, and even lingo. Yet today it is the cowboy whom we remember, while the vaquero has all but disappeared from history.
The vaqueros are at last given their due in this dramatic narrative, lushly illustrated with beautiful period paintings and drawings.

About Russell Freedman

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Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, the Sibert Medal, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City.
Published October 15, 2001 by Clarion Books. 80 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Young Adult, Children's Books, Biographies & Memoirs.

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Further chapters detail the apparatus and techniques used by the vaqueros (with special attention paid to the way the original Spanish words have worked their way into the language of the American cowboy), and the inevitable decline of the vaquero, brought about by changes both technological and ...

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Freedman deftly sketches the rigid class system that confined the vaqueros to lowly status of péon ("man at the bottom of the social ladder") and tied them to wealthy landowners and he documents how these skilled laborers taught their trade to American settlers.

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