US & World

Prioleau Alexander: Why I’m Writing About Cowboys

And why America needs to read about them if we hope to reach greener pastures again …

As I mentioned in my last column, I have a new book out: Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? Madness, Mayhem, and the Making of America.

I’ve had a few people ask me about the title, and I chose it because I believe there’s no greater American symbol than Cowboys. They were served an absolute crap sandwich in life, and saddled up anyway. Their lives were mean, short, and brutish — bloody in tooth and claw. They had no real future or hope for improving their lot in life, so they did what they had to do.

Americans always have.

Even as bitterly divided as our nation currently is, we’ll reach a point where we’ve got to solve the problems. Both sides will have to suck it up, get in the saddle, and like a team of Cowboys, whoop, holler, and push the Republic forward. 

This will happen when our collective crap sandwich gets so bad, we have no choice. Like the famed Cowboys who came into being after the War Between the States, we’re going to have to look in the mirror and say, “I’m screwed. I didn’t ask for it, and I didn’t cause it, but we either ride together or die together.”

As is usually the case, I try to use humor, even when a situation is in no way funny. Humor has a way of pointing out reality. Yes, most of my humor is directed towards the liberals I so vehemently disagree with, but liberals have Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, the (accidentally hilarious show) The View and virtually every successful actor and actress in Hollywood. 

I don’t think anyone needs to worry my writings on this website are going to topple the Republic.



Anyway, a few thoughts on cowboys: Just after the Civil War the famed American Cowboy arrived on the scene — tanned, tough, armed to the teeth, and usually found in the saddle, drunk or badly hungover. For some reason, most historians feel a great calling to pooh-pooh the cowboy myth, spending entire pages harping on their low wages, grueling work, and high mortality rate. 

Well, duh. 

Is America a nation of blue-bloods, ballrooms, and ballet? Hardly! This nation — since day one — has been about sweat, blood, challenges, and sucking it up when the going gets tough! The cowboys lived life as real American junkyard dogs — Confederate veterans, freed slaves, Mexicans and the occasional Indian — to a man they dined on cow-patty casseroles for their meal of life, and had no choice but to munch away.

Here’s a fairly accurate conversational dramatization of their predicament …

Confederate Veteran: No land, no money — this sucks. 

Freed Slave: Oh, boo-hoo, Confederate. My family was sold off to another master.

Mexican: Hey, my entire country was stolen. 

Indian: Money? Land? Family? My country was stolen; my family was slaughtered; my people don’t even have a word for money; and they’re still after me.

Confederate/Freed Slave/Mexican: You win. 

Indian: Oh, that does me a lotta good — what do we do now? 

Confederate Veteran: I guess I’m gonna sign up for welfare.

Mexican: I think I’ll write a strongly worded letter to my Congressman.

Freed Slave: I’m gonna go to Law School.

Indian: Good thinking! And maybe I’ll catch the tornado express to the Land of Oz! 

Rancher: Hey! You fellas want a crappy job that’ll keep ya’ from starving to death?

Confederate/Freed Slave/Mexican/Indian: Where do we sign up?

A Cowboy’s life centered around the pushing of Texas longhorn cattle from the pasturelands of Texas to the railroad junctions in Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, and Wyoming. 

After a successful drive (which meant you weren’t dead), the Cowboys would kick it in towns like Tombstone, Dodge City, and Deadwood — names which immediately conjure up visions of Spring Break, no? For the most part, they behaved like you would expect men with nothing to live for and a wad of paycheck cash to behave: They spent it on booze, hookers, and poker … and the rest they blew, foolishly. 

This post-Civil War Cowboy Heyday also provided us with all the cool good guys and bad guys. Even World Wrestling Entertainment couldn’t top this lineup: On the side of mayhem stood Jessie & Frank James, Cole Younger and his brothers, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid … the list goes on. 

The side of law and order was equally filled with testosterone — Wild Bill Hickok, Pat Garret, Wyatt Earp & his brothers, Doc Holiday (okay, iffy), Judge Roy Bean … that list goes on, too! 

I ask you: Does it get any better than this? 



Guns, leather saddles, horses, whiskey, cigars, hookers, poker games, blood, sweat, and well, more sweat, dressed in a full-length duster and a low-slung holster tied to the leg? Men of black, white, red, and tan – all swaggering out into the high noon sun to “do whatta man’s gotta do?” 

Is this America, or what? 

Sadly, the era of the cowboy lasted only from about 1865 to 1890. First, some spoilsport figured out that the Longhorns could live quite fine, thank-you, up near the rail junctions year-round, thus eliminating the need for the cattle drive. Then another spoilsport invented barbed wire, which allowed ranchers to fence-in their cattle over vast areas, thus eliminating the need for men to cow-sit the herd. 

And that was that. 

Ranchers needed a better solution, some enterprising American rose to the occasion, and labor costs were slashed. Screwed again, the American Cowboy rode off into the sunset to find some other lousy way to make a living., 

But … they left us with a symbol that survives — globally — to this day. I for one laugh when I hear Europeans refer to us as “cowboys,” because that’s what we are, down to our DNA.

It was us Cowboys who won WWI and WWII then rebuilt all of Europe via the Marshall Plan. When the North Korean/ Chinese commies were within weeks of fully conquering South Korea, it was us Cowboys who kicked their asses back to the 38th parallel. It was us Cowboys who stood the line during the Cold War, and eventually toppled the Soviets without firing a shot. And our Cowboys served their nation nobly in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Did they win? If enemy combatant body counts mean anything, they won 150:1.

We’re Cowboys still — I may disagree with virtually everything liberals stand for, but other than the college students, they ain’t cowering in the stables … they’re out there brawling with us conservatives, and in case no one’s noticed, they’re winning. 

Will they ultimately win our currently-peaceful civil war of words and laws?

Maybe … but like I said, we’re all headed towards a Cowboy-level, all-you-can-eat, crap buffet. And when we’re all dining out of the same trough, maybe we’ll once again get back in the saddle, and push the Republic to greener pastures.

For those interested, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? is available along with my other books on Amazon and Books make great gifts, because they require reading — which might be something more Americans need to do.



Prioleau Alexander is a freelance writer, focusing mostly on politics and non-fiction humor. He is an international advocate for literacy and learning, and shows his commitment to the cause by reminding everyone that books make great gifts. He is the author of four books: ‘You Want Fries With That?,’ ‘Dispatches Along the Way,’ ‘Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?‘ and ‘They Don’t Call It The Submission Process For Nothing.’



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Bill December 6, 2023 at 4:41 pm

They live in Mexico and Central America. They pack up their impoverished family and walk thousands of miles to a country where half of the people hate them all for just a chance at a better life. When they get here; businesses who support Republicans who bash them and call them criminals, rapists, and drug dealers, offer them crappy jobs at well below the pay an American would work for, and tell them they will be deported if they speak up. And they take it because it keeps them and their kids from starving to death. They plow fields, they harvest crops, they work cattle, they work in yards, and they live 10 people in a one-bedroom trailer just to make ends meet; all while being treated like a pariah and scum by people who have lived a life they can only dream of and will never have, who have done little or nothing for the poor or to welcome the stranger, and yet they all purport to be “Christians”.

E Prioleau Alexander Author December 6, 2023 at 5:06 pm

I’m not sure what that has to do with the article, but rest assured that if I was in their shoes, I would do the exact same thing– regardless of the legality. As for the conditions they work and live in, Hispanics remember something that almost no Americans do: “As a parent, my sole reason for existence is offering my kids a better life than I had.”

I’ve never seen an Hispanic immigrant in Charleston lounging around. They work their asses off, and send money home to their families. After a few years, they can return home– having lifted their family out of poverty into the middle-class. They are nothing less than tremendously productive.

Until the people being impacted by the negative aspects of illegal immigration stand up– the Southwest, big cities, the West Coast, et al, I really don’t care about the issue of Open Borders… because I have no dog in the fight. THEY are the ones putting up with gangs, drugs, violence, and disappearing resources, and don’t seem to care.

If it’s worth it to them, live and let live. I am very fond of seeing these men working tirelessly to support their family. There is great nobility in what they do– a concept lost on most Americans.

I’ve been to many Spanish speaking countries, and find all their people to be kind, generous, quick to laugh, family oriented, and committed to their faith.

Did you know I felt this way, or did you read between some imaginary lines and simply assume how I felt?

A Name December 6, 2023 at 6:04 pm

So, Drunkle thinks cowboys are great because they were “served an absolute crap sandwich in life, and saddled up anyway. Their lives were mean, short, and brutish — bloody in tooth and claw”

Wait till Drunkle hears about all the slaves from Africa who built the part of the country he lives in!!! They make cowboys look like pampered hacks trying to pass themselves off as writers ;-)

There's a Snake in my Boot! December 8, 2023 at 8:19 am

He’s doing what most Boomers do when faced with the guilt and shame of blowing up an entire country and leaving their kids and grandkids with a broken mess, trying to spin it into a positive by extolling the virtues of the hard work needed to reverse their mess (just kidding, Boomers want us to further obliterate the country by still following their path of destruction despite the objective failure over the last 40-50 years) and demanding appreciation for it. That and Boomers grew up with lots of cowboy shows and movies and that’s basically Drunkle’s childhood fantasy turned fetish.

The great news is that Drunkle can toss his keyboard, go buy a ranch somewhere, and herd cattle while he eats beans at any time. You know, like a real cowboy. Presumably the only reason he hasn’t yet is because he’s soft and lazy. Reminds me of his whole spiel about the world needing more badasses, while he himself is probably about as far from a badass as you can possibly get.

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VERITAS Top fan December 10, 2023 at 3:46 pm

A snake in your boot? Well bend down, then, you lazy fool, and just yank ‘er outta there! What the hell’s the matter with you, boy? Cat got your tongue and a snake in your boot. Some would say you’re just a might plain dumb ass.

Bill December 7, 2023 at 10:46 am

Did I misread the title of your book? My first sentence was the answer. That said, I have watched your posts over the last year, and you have expressed support for Trump and the MAGA movement. My PERSONAL OPINION is you cannot be a supporter of Trump and that movement and not hate Hispanics. The things he says he is going to do to that group of people, you could only support if you hate them and have dehumanized them. Remember they are vermin, criminals, rapists and drug dealers.

Illegal immigration is a problem of our own making. If we had a guest worker program, we would benefit from the labor force we have to our south and we would not have to spend so much time and money trying to capture people and deport them. Or threatening to dump people who were brought here as little children in a country they have never known. They could add to our tax base and fill jobs that are unfilled right now because we are currently at near full employment.

Wingnut December 7, 2023 at 10:11 pm

“My PERSONAL OPINION is you cannot be a supporter of Trump and that movement and not hate Hispanics.” Are you serious? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so MY OPINION is that’s one of the worst and totally false characterizations of Trump and his supporters that I’ve ever heard. How about talking to some of his supporters, who actually believe in the same “cowboy” philosophies of faith, family, hard work, “live and let live”, and providing for their own instead of expecting the “entitlement” of government support from cradle to grave. If one wants to debate policy, that’s fine, but at least be honest and truthful in accusations. Trump has NEVER said that all Hispanics are “vermin, criminals, rapists and drug dealers”, to use your terminology, and I would defy anyone to document that he has. He has said that some that fit that category will and ARE slipping through our open southern border virtually unencumbered, which happens to be an inconvenient truth. Personally, I have some very close Hispanic friends. They actually followed THE LAW to come to this country. How is an open border fair to those who did actually follow the law instead of breaking it as their very first act upon entering this country? EVERY other country in the world has rules, regulations, and LAWS to follow in order to cross their borders. Our country was founded by immigrants, and they are still welcome. However, I have yet to hear a rational explanation why our country is expected to be the ONLY one in the world that should be expected to NOT defend its borders.

Oops! All Ls December 8, 2023 at 8:28 am

“that’s one of the worst and totally false characterizations of Trump and his supporters that I’ve ever heard.”

Dude, even the Latinos for Trump were worried about taco trucks on every corner if Trump didn’t win. The racism was really coming from inside the house on that one.

Also, I laughed out loud at “I have Hispanic friends”, probably the most tone deaf thing anyone can say to counter a claim of racism.

Hank December 8, 2023 at 4:47 pm

Trump has no philosophy of faith, family, hard work or live and let live. He has no faith, he has never regularly attended church and has never asked anyone, including Christ, for forgiveness for anything he has ever done. He even disparaged Evangelicals when they were supporting Ted Cruz in his first election.

His family values are he has sex whenever wants and with whom he wants, even if he is married. He thinks it is okay to molest women; has done it frequently and even bragged about it. He ran around on all three of his wives.

He called our war dead losers and suckers, in front of General Kelly, who has a son buried at Arlington Cemetary. The Trump family has been in this country for about 150 years and not one member of that family has ever served in the armed services of this nation.

As for hard work, Trump has never worked a day in his life. He was given a fortune by his father and lost a lot of it. He has filed for bankruptcy three times, every time stiffing small business people who truly did hard work for him on his properties and in his businesses. He created a fake college and ripped off students to the point he had to repay 23 million dollars.

As for live and let live, I don’t even know where that comes from. Trump loves Putin and XI. He praises them every chance he gets and wants to be like them, he wants to control everything and everyone’s life. He tried to overthrow the Government and take away the vote of well over half the people of this Country. How is any of that live and let live?

Now as for Hispanics, Trump has said he plans to round them up and put them in concentration camps, before mass deportation. As for how he feels about Hispanics, I think his best quote is
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us(sic). They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

As for entitlements, I don’t think you know what that is. But, people in this country illegally do not get entitlements. They get nothing. They work for people like Trump under the table for enough to live. Before he ran for President he had to fire a bunch of undocumented immigrants who were working in his Hotels. He kicked them out after years of work with nothing, and he would round them up and put them in concentration camps today.

You watch too much lying right-wing media and have a huge misconception of the nuts that populate Trump’s Cult. MAGA is mostly professional victims who aren’t where they want to be in life and it’s someone else’s fault. No one gets cradled to grave care in this country unless they are born disabled and unable to care for themselves.

JustCallMeAva Top fan December 9, 2023 at 10:18 am

Dude, you do know that the Biden administration has already detained and turned more illegals at the US borders than the Trump administration did, right? Oh, no, of course you don’t because you live full-time in the land of the false narratives.

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VERITAS Top fan December 7, 2023 at 11:22 am

Said it here before and I say it again, E Prioleau Alexander is my new favorite writer. Love the humor to present difficult topics.

Response to “Bill”: Not sure South Americans looking for a better life in the U.S. and have followed the proper channels to enter the country and follow the law should be thrown into the “huddled masses” of drug cartels, terrorists, human traffickers, rapists and other criminals crossing illegally into the U.S. looking to do our country and its people harm. Try to keep up, Bill.

Nanker Phelge December 7, 2023 at 5:03 pm

You just can’t quit them, pard.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

JustCallMeAva Top fan December 9, 2023 at 10:19 am

In other words, he’s been watching Yellowstone and has a big ole’ man crush on Rip.

Bonanza reruns December 7, 2023 at 5:54 pm

“Why I’m writing about cowboys…”

Because you are a white boomer male. Pretty simple.

Mark Houde Top fan December 7, 2023 at 7:35 pm

Never read a book from Alexander I didn’t love. I’m sure this one will not disappoint as well.

Uno Reverse December 8, 2023 at 8:30 am

I haven’t read any of his books and I’m loving it so far.


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