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Controlled Recklessness

Ed Lemmon and the Open Range

Controlled Recklessness


$19.95, Paperback
ISBN: 9781941813058

"Controlled Recklessness is well told, well documented, well indexed, and well worth reading."—Montana The Magazine of Western History

"An impressive work of seminal scholarship that is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range" is the latest addition to the outstanding South Dakota Biography Series from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. An extraordinary and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, Controlled Recklessness is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, and academic library American Biography reference collections."—Midwest Book Review

“Nathan Sanderson has written a fresh, thoughtful biography of South Dakota's Ed Lemmon. A truly multidimensional plainsman, Lemmon was a town founder, an open-range rancher, and a driver of more cattle to market than anyone else. Indeed, Ed Lemmon is to the northern plains as Charlie Goodnight is to the southern plains. Just a fine book!”—John Wunder, professor emeritus of history and former director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Ed Lemmon epitomized the rough-and-ready spirit that built today’s cowboy culture. Nathan Sanderson has made a significant contribution to our history in recording and exploring the life of this amazing South Dakotan.”—Bernie Hunhoff, South Dakota Magazine

As a cowboy, Ed Lemmon saddle-handled more cattle than any man in history. As a cattleman, he oversaw the largest fenced pasture in the world. Equally at home in both roles, Lemmon balanced reckless risk-taking and controlled management to shape the development of the cattle industry and become a central figure on the northern plains.

Born in 1857 into a hardworking and resilient family, George Edward (“Ed”) Lemmon grew up learning how to bounce back from adversity. Despite several crippling accidents on horseback, he continued to pursue his passion. A full-time cowboy at twenty and a range manager at twenty-three, Lemmon finally achieved what few cowboys could: an ownership stake in one of the largest outfits on the plains, the Flying V. As the open range disappeared, Lemmon helped to transform the Northern Great Plains from a network of worn, dusty cattle trails to one of cattle towns linked by railroads.

In Controlled Recklessness, author Nathan Sanderson explores the motivations that led one of the greatest cowmen on the plains to saddle up time and time again. Using Lemmon’s own vibrant accounts, historical records, and corporate and government documents, Sanderson separates myth from reality. The result is a comprehensive look at Lemmon’s colorful life and his perspective as both a cowboy and a cattleman at the end of the open-range era.

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