Reviewer’s Comments

Gary Paul Nabhan

A quarter century ago, novelist/prophet Bill Kittredge argued that the West ‘needed a new story’ of how to live and work with the land. Rancher Richard Collins has now given us that fresh, dynamic, and thoughtful narrative, one of families and communities in cattle country celebrating and enhancing the complexity of the landscape of which they are a part. Collins is not only a fine storyteller, but there is generosity and exuberance in his writing and thinking that I hope will spread like wildfire to renew the many landscapes and cultures of the American West. —Gary Paul Nabhan, author of Food from the Radical Center and co-editor of Stitching the West Back Together and MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
Photo by Dennis Moroney


H. Alan Day

As a lifelong rancher and cowboy, I was mesmerized by Richard Collins’ beautifully crafted stories. What I particularly relished was Collins’ deep love of the land. His passion for conserving and improving grasslands, water, wildlife—the very environment that sustains us—shines through his articulate and moving prose. He is a down-to-earth rancher and cowboy who finds great joy in his daily tasks while never losing sight of his role as steward of the land. —H. Alan Day, author of The Horse Lover and Cowboy Up!


Bill McDonald

The best description of ranching in southeast Arizona that I have yet run across. —Bill McDonald, co-founder of the Radical Center, past president of the Malpai Borderlands Group, and fifth generation rancher, MacArthur Foundation Fellow


Thomas E. Sheridan

Collins seamlessly weaves a memoir about how he learned to ranch in southeastern Arizona with astute commentaries about the challenges of doing so in a land where most of his neighbors were exurbanites and a small endangered minnow caused more problems than the drug runners trekking through his mountain pastures. —Thomas E.Sheridan, professor of anthropology at University of Arizona, author of Arizona: A History, and co-editor of Stitching the West Back Together


Ross Humphreys

There is something special about being able to live and work in a landscape over many years. Each year offers a greater understanding of place and your place in it. Richard Collins shines when he is describing his beloved high desert grasslands and the people and creatures who occupy it. —Ross Humphreys, owner of San Rafael Ranch

Jim Koweek.jpg

Jim Koweek

Cowboy is a Verb should be read by every rancher, agency member, or any folks that just love open spaces. Using local examples to illustrate his points, Richard shows the need to add a powerful; fourth ‘C’ to the three Cs of successful ranching. Cowboys, Cattle, and Cow Dogs—make room for Cooperation. Anyone with feelings about the west will find things they like and things they wish Richard hadn’t brought up in this book. That is the surest way to know he has written the truth about a subject that he knows and cares deeply about. —Jim Koweek, author of Grassland Plant ID for Everyone

walter lane.jpg

Walter Lane

One of the few books available that gives a well-rounded description of modern-day ranching in the southwest… a very balanced picture of the challenges facing ranchers today. Your discussion of habitat and species is a perspective that should be embraced by all land management agencies in their decisions regarding the management of large landscapes. Thanks for writing such an enlightening book and giving me the opportunity to read it.—Walter Lane, co-owner of Headquarters West, Ltd. and fourth generation southeastern Arizona rancher

betty barr.jpg

Betty Barr

Collins’ descriptions of abundant wildlife, expansive scenic views, and especially the watershed that divides his ranch, all attest to his deep connection to the property that he has explored, inch by inch, on horseback… The efforts of a hands-on working rancher to sustain the viability of the land he so loves makes it likely that cowboy truly is a verb.Betty Barr, historian and author of Hidden Treasures of Santa Cruz County


Courtney White

Richard Collins was a leader in the vitally important task of building a radical center among ranchers, conservationists, and federal agencies in southern Arizona. Today, as the West and the nation continues to harden into opposing factions we need the work of radical centrists more than ever. In this thoughtful, humorous, and heartfelt memoir, Collins captures the spirit of those heady years, sharing lessons learned for all of us along the way.Courtney White, author of Grass, Soil, Hope and co-founder of the Quivira Coalition

richard l knight.jpg

Richard L. Knight

I do think this book may become a classic and sit alongside other memorable books on ranching culture.Richard L. Knight, retired professor of wildlife conservation, Colorado State University