No photographer in our time has captured the harshness and beauty of cowboy life as truthfully as Skeeter Hagler. The images in this collection have won photography's highest honor for achievement and excellence, the Pulitzer Prize.

The Pulitzer Prize is the highest honor a photograph or series of photographs can achieve. The Pulitzer Prize is to photography what the Nobel Prize is to world leaders and the Academy Awards is to movies, actors and directors.


The men who work on the historic ranches in the Texas Panhandle call theirs the freest kind of life you can have. It's a life that has changed little since the 1860's, when thousands of young men rode home from the Civil War and began driving the wild longhorn cattle out of the brush and up the dusty trails to Abilene and Dodge City.

Over the years since, the cowboy has become the quintessential American hero. He has been glorified in song and story, on film and on television as the New World's knight on horseback; free as the wind, reliable as the sun, master of the vast and beautiful universe called The West.

Those who know the cowboy best know that his life is one of hard manual labor, brutal weather and a loneliness so strong the most of us would never bear it. But those realities only strengthen the power of this grasp on our imagination. Indeed, he stands tall in our minds and in our national mythology precisely because of the hardships he faces and the easy grace and humor with which he conquers them.