Ranch schools in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Wyoming in the 1920s and 1930s portrayed that the West embodied the moral attributes believed to be lacking in urban America. Advocates of character education saw the courage and self-reliance of the Old West as the qualities necessary to preserve the nation through the next generation. Bingmann uses ranch schools, designed to counteract the problems of inherited wealth, as a lens through which to examine citizenship, class, gender, and region during this era while illustrating that these schools, in transmitting such values to American youth, created a network of elite private schools that gave pampered boys from the urban centers of the Atlantic Seaboard and Great Lakes region the opportunity to grow into gentlemen cowboys ready to take the reins of power in family businesses and government.
"Bingmann does a fine job of reconstructing the elite cultural disquiet and parental anxieties of the 1920s and '30s that made these schools, for a moment in time, seem both natural and necessary."--Pasatiempo
"In this fascinating study of a little-known phenomenon, Melissa Bingmann . . . presents a picture of the emergence and heyday of the ranch schools."--Curled Up With a Good Book
"An engaging and well-researched study. . . . Anyone interested in education will find this book an informative and groundbreaking contribution to history of the West and American education."--Mexia Daily News
"An engaging, well-researched account of the private schools that proliferated in the interwar years in the American Southwest. Bingmann does an excellent job of situating these schools in the context of the history of American education. This book will be a significant contribution to scholarship on the history of the West, on the culture of masculinity, and on education."--Lynn Dumenil, author of The Modern Temper: American Culture and Society in the 1920s