Twenty years ago, for reasons lost to history, I ran across the story of General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, who was returning from fighting Indians in Michigan, but took ill and died in Erie, Pennsylvania. The leaders of Erie claimed him as their own and buried him with honors… and were none too happy when his son arrived, with plans to exhume the body and bury him in the family plot in Radnor, PA.

“Would love to help you,” said the Mayor, “but, ah… ah… no. Hard no on that one.”

The Erie Chamber of Commerce insisted their reluctance was out of reverence for the General’s remains, and had nothing to do with the number of tourists stopping in town to pay their respects, then blowing a week’s pay in the Ye Olde Booze and Babes District.

The son was quite insistent… so a compromise was needed… and a deal was struck. Like any group of good Christians would, they subsequently boiled the body in a cauldron of water, and the Erie folks got to retain the flesh, guts, and clothes, while the bones went back east with Junior.

In that moment, a great truth dawned on me: “America isn’t a nation. We’re a lunatic hospital. Shakespeare himself couldn’t come up with a comedy so hilariously dark and twisted.”

That’s when I decided I had to write a comedic-yet-accurate account of our Republic, from Jamestown to James Brown.

A few revelations occurred to me during my research of America’s 500-year history: First, developing a humor angle was easy—in fact, previous historians must’ve worked very hard to ignore the hilarity of our twisted past.

Second, the more I studied, the more obvious the “lessons learned” became—along with the realization we’ve learned practically nothing along the way.

Finally, it dawned on me that by using a formula of HISTORY + LESSONS LEARNED, America’s story could be told in a way that would make adults laugh—while at the same time giving high school and college students a way to learn about our magnificent nation and actually, you know, think. Stay awake.

Thus was born Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? Madness, Mayhem, and the Making of America.

 It’s been over 25-years since I wrote the first sentence using a #2 Mirado Black Warrior pencil, and today it’s finally been published.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction, addressing the fact we’ve become a nation of bedwetting, butt-hurt, safe-space snowflakes:

“What do you think the founders of this nation would say if they saw us now? You know, those maniacs who rowed up to Roanoke Island, NC in the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes of August, 1587, got their wool-wearing-asses out of the skiff, waded through a swamp filled with poisonous snakes, looked around, and without seeing a toilet, a shower, a Zippy Mart, hardware store, or a single regulatory or government aid agency on the entire continent said… ‘Cool. Let’s live here.’”

 What… do… you… think… they’d… say?

 It’s depressing to even consider: One day we were a united group of individuals, each striving in their own way for life, liberty, and the pursuit of a little fun. The next day we’re veering off the bridge at Chappaquiddick, slapping each other with sexual harassment lawsuits for accidental contact as we struggle to escape, and demanding the federal government recognize drowning as a disease as the water rushes into our lungs.

Even Hank Williams’ classic “I’m so lonesome I could cry” fails to deliver the kind pain our forefathers endured to provide to us this nation of LA-Z-BOY chairs, HVAC, deodorant, and food that magically appears in a grocery store. Their suffering would require a song entitled, “I’m so lonesome—because my wife got eaten by a bear, my son drowned crossing Sure Death River, and I married off my daughter for a pound of tobacco, a bottle of whiskey, and a piece of hard candy—that I could cry.”

 Novelist Ryan McKaig, author of Bull City Blues and The Counterfeit Girl, read the manuscript and wrote, “It turns out the funniest book in history is about history.”

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? is available now on Amazon. For those of you kind enough to buy a copy, please write a review on Amazon… since you bought it on Amazon, your review will come up as a “Verified purchase,” so someone reading your review knows you actually purchased the book.

Why is that important? Well, I write for two newspapers, and frequently opine on politics, and tend to hurt left-wing Yankee feelings… ergo there will be any number of shrieking liberals who will fail to buy the book, and just give it a 1-Star rating. I am in need of good Southerners to drown them out.

If you’d like a preview of what the book is about, follow this link to its Facebook page.

Prioleau Alexander

Prioleau Alexander is a writer for The Charleston Mercury, a broadsheet newspaper committed to Southern culture, history, leaders, and sports afield. Subscriptions are available at their website,


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