This is pretty much the ultimate trail drive novel, I'd say. Sure Lonesome Dove is in the running, and then there's Red River. But this one has it all.
Billy Scott is to be the leader of the drive (3000 cattle), but the owner of the herd dies and his widow turns the leadership over to someone else. Scott's not even going to be the segundo, with that honor going to a man called Blackie.
The trail boss dies pretty quickly, and Blackie takes over. He's about as smart as a can of green beans. Scott has to figure out how to get the herd through without officially taking over control.
While the book has plenty of action (stampedes, fist fights, nights on the town), realism is the key. Capps never resorts to melodrama, and he never romanticizes the west. He must have studied plenty of true accounts before writing the novel. It's not your standard western.
One interesting thing: the book was published in 1964, but the style's more akin to a novel from another century. There's lots of showing instead of telling, and the paragraphs are long and complex. I don't mind this style at all, but I'm sure it would put off some of today's readers.
Robert Skinner is working on an article on Capps to appear in Firsts magazine. I'll be getting a copy of that, for sure.