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For most of us western fans, there is something undeniable about a cattle drive. It's a call to adventure with a collective attempting a difficult task and journey out in the elements. Johnny Boggs, no stranger to this story, found a very unique cattle drive in history for his latest, Longhorns East.

He also found a different kind of protagonist in Tom Candy Ponting. An englishman we first meet in his home country in 1840 as a young man learning the trade on his first drive. We also get to learn about the english drovers and their system as he helps take cattle to London.

Boggs then jumps to 1852 with Ponting. Now living in Illinois, he has just brought cattle to Racine with his partner, Malone. Feeling the Wisconsin market is drying up, he looks to new fortunes and hears about the longhorn cattle down in Texas. On a bet, one of his few vices, Ponting accepts the challenge to get a herd from The Lone Star Territory to none other than New York City,

First there is a journey to Texas. It entails an arduous winter trip through the midwest, involving a dangerous crossing over a frozen Mississippi. They also deal with a major fire in St. Louis.

When down in Texas, Ponting makes a deal with a rough and tumble cattleman, Rusk. They round up hundreds of longhorns, a crew that includes a Cherokee Indian and freeman of color and a head out for New York. He also insists on bringing a herd of hogs.

Boggs has fun with the unique details of the drives. He often presents them through the characters and clashing methods of Ponting and Rusk. The discussion of why and how to bring the hogs is funny and smart. There is also a great negotiation with a steamboat captain to ferry the animals.

He also has a both classic and different lead in Tom Candy Ponting. Smart, decent, and capable, if a bit arrogant, he appears the only one who could pull off this unlikely task. I don't know where he found him, but I'm glad Boggs did. He encapsulates the immigrant success story through risk, work, and ingenuity. He applies his ideas to a burgeoning business that becomes an iconic part of the American west, even if he if gong in the opposite direction.


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