Forged in dime novels, Wild West shows, and Hollywood films, the image of the American cowboy is largely a myth. But behind it were real men whose hard work and hard play, stoic toughness, and code of honor helped tame the American West. The epic cattle drives that were so much a part of the cowboys' heyday lasted only an astonishingly brief two decades. But the cowboy is still a basic part of the American character. Here, from historian Grayson Wyatt, is their surprising and little-told story.