Archer B. Gilfillan was an anomaly. An Ivy League scholar with a broad knowledge of classical literature and a talent for writing, he nonetheless chose to herd sheep from 1916 to 1934 in a lonely, isolated part of the West. Out of this strange juxtaposition of expertise and experience, Gilfillan produced the classic narrative of American sheepherding.
First published in 1929, Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range provides a personal, informative, and entertaining account of the western sheepherder. From blizzards to predatory wolves, from grass-crazed sheep in the springtime to penny-pinching bosses, Gilfillan misses nothing. He also volunteers his trenchant opinions on modern women, cowboys, and homesteaders—many of whom were his neighbors.
In his introduction, Richard W. Etulain, director of the Center for the American West at the University of New Mexico, describes Gilfillan’s life and discusses the appeal of the wide-open West to an urban-industrial nation.