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Bestselling State Historical Society book 'Cowboy Life' now available in paperback

Bestselling State Historical Society book 'Cowboy Life' now available in paperback

The South Dakota State Historical Society Press is making one of its bestselling books available in paperback. Cowboy Life: The Letters of George Philip features firsthand accounts of rattlesnakes and ornery horses, the dreaded Texas Itch, midnight rambles on graveyards, trips to Mexico and hard riding on the last open range.

From 1899 to 1903, author George Philip worked as a cowboy for his uncle, the renowned James “Scotty” Philip, a cattleman best known for his role in preserving the buffalo. Later in life, he wrote a series of candid letters for his children, providing fascinating insights into the development of the West and of South Dakota.

Philip’s writing details the cowboy’s day-to-day work, from branding and roping to navigating across the plains by stars and buttes as the great open ranges slowly closed up. The places and characters of the range find life in Philip’s mixture of humor, hard-nosed “horse-sense,” and poignant reflection.

The hardcover edition of Cowboy Life won an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History and garnered praise from True West magazine and the Rapid City Journal.

The book is available through the website of the SDSHS Press,, or by calling (605) 773-6009.

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Tourism. The Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the State Historical Society. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.

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