This book is about the remarkable set of slippages in Joe Starrett and Rufus Ryker's conversation about the public range, where opposing visions of righteousness justify property rights and opposing assertions of property rights involve the government, which, on the surface, seems so absent from the scene. It is also about the political resonance of that conversation throughout the first half of the twentieth century, when ranchers engaged in a national debate over the kinds of claims they could make to western rangeland. It explores the industry's changing ideas about public rangelands from the time when ranchers began to organize to the time when they had clearly become a significant political lobby. The chapters in this book argue that relations of property stand at the center of the conflict between the federal government and public land ranchers. Finally, an overview of these chapters is presented.
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