December 14, 1981 12:00 PM

by Sharon DeLano and David Rieff

Because of the fancy art direction, this book looks like typical pop exploitation designed to cash in on a current fad. The surprise is that the text is completely serious and well researched, with a thoughtful introduction by Dallas department store mogul Stanley Marcus The reader learns, for instance, that all the fancy stitching up the boot, now done by computers, is usually there for a purpose: to keep the leather from falling like a limp stocking. The illustrations, especially the Russell Lee and Erwin Smith photographs of real cowboys, re mind us how far Hollywood has taken us from the real thing. The great bootmakers of Texas—Lucchese in San Antonio, Justin in Fort Worth and Tony Lama in El Paso—are profiled, and it is clear that the making of custom boots is a craft that’s far from dying out. The authors, both New York editors (Rieff is writer Susan Sontag’s son), prove that reading about cowboy boots and looking at them are a lot more fun than wearing the pinchy-toed things. (Penguin, $12.95)

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