The Range War of ’82

Written by Ethan J. Wolfe
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1882, Jefferson Parker is the richest cattle baron in Wyoming. He wants statehood for the territory and will stop at nothing to claim all the available grazing land for raising his cattle. James and Sarah Johansen are in the third year of raising crops on a small-acre farm adjacent to his ranch. Along with several other small farmers, they are in Parker’s way of keeping all the land an open range for raising cattle. Farmers can build fences on their land so that their crops don’t get eaten or trampled by the ranchers’ livestock. Parker offers money to the farmers to purchase their land, using a reputed gunslinger named Cord to convince the farmers that their best option is to sell. Parker has a hot-headed son who is anxious to resolve this situation through intimidation and is not willing to wait for Cole to complete his mission. The conflict between the rancher and the farmers leads to a range war.

Ethan Wolfe is one of my favorite western authors. His books always contain characters that are well-formed and credible and show emotion in every scene. This novel did not let me down and was a real pleasure to read. The character of Cord, as a reputed gunslinger with a conscience, adds an interesting facet to this tale. Will Cord continue to side with Parker, or will he try to defend the rights of the farmers in retaining their land? I highly recommend this book, rich in western lore, to those who enjoy a good Western.