Barbed Wire: The Fence that Changed the West by Joanne S. Liu
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How could an ordinary fence shape a nation's history? Before the 1870s, much of the American West was an uninterrupted expanse of plains, where native tribes followed buffalo herds for hundreds of miles and cowboys ran cattle wherever water and grass led them. After the Homestead Act of 1862, settlers pouring into the West to stake their claims found that farming was not easy in cattle country, where the Law of the Open Range dictated that the needs of the herds-and their owners-came first. Then, seemingly overnight, everything changed. The invention and mass production of barbed wire made it possible for homesteaders to fence off millions of acres, creating a violent clash of cultures. In this engaging history, the struggles of cattlemen, farmers, Indians, inventors, and outlaws are brought to life for history buffs and curious readers alike. Enhanced by historic photos, maps, and a handy chronology, Barbed Wire: The Fence That Changed the West reveals the fascinating account of how a simple twist of wire transformed a country's landscape and ushered in a new way of life."