From the Spring 2024 issue of the Isa Informer

The Lasater Philosophy celebrates its 52nd year

By Isabel Lasater Hernandez, Vice President

Editor’s note: Through various conversations with Mom and Dad, I was able to piece together a time line of The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Raising journey, which has never been documented.

In February 1971, Laurie Lasater needed a distraction to alleviate the gnawing worry caused by the devastating drought in Coahuila, Mexico. With ranch duties assigned, he came banging in the kitchen door, announcing that he was going to write about his father. Initially, Laurie planned to write a short pamphlet summarizing Tom Lasater’s ideas—he estimated that he would need two pages—and make copies for his family and friends.

As Laurie began writing about the Six Essentials, he thought of more of Tom’s ideas that he wanted to include. With the encouragement of friends and family, the article became several chapters that eventually became a book.

Laurie worked on his first draft from February to May, waiting for the drought to end and their second child to be born. In June, Laurie and Annette spent three weeks in Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas border cities near the hospital in Piedras Negras, making sure they were close to the doctor. Annette used the monotonous days to retype and finalize Laurie’s manuscript.

The rain began falling in Piedras Negras when Annette was in the hospital. She and Laurie hoped it was raining at Rancho Santa Cruz, their home nearly three hours away. Little did they know that the ranch was in deluge that would total more than 30 inches of rain. When they flew home several days later, the ranch was unrecognizable from the air, with landmarks and fences washed away and debris scattered everywhere. Laurie had managed to finish his manuscript just as the historic drought ended.

During a trip to Albany, Texas, to visit family at Lambshead Ranch, Laurie’s grandmother Ethel Matthews Casey suggested he contact Carl Hertzog, founder of Texas Western Press, about his book. An award-winning book designer, Carl had created a new edition in 1958 of Interwoven, written by Laurie’s great-grandmother Sallie Reynolds Matthews. According to an article by the Texas State Historical Association, Interwoven was Carl’s “sentimental favorite above all others.”

Laurie, Annette, Lorenzo and Isabel at Rancho Santa Cruz in 1972, the year The Lasater Philosophy was first published.

Laurie told Carl about his manuscript, but initially Texas Western Press passed on the project as they wanted to focus more on history books. However, Carl later decided to take on the ranching book. Carl expanded the project further, designing a limited, boxed hardcover edition of 295 copies, followed by a hardcover version and eventually a paperback. The boxed books, released in 1972, were signed by Laurie, Carl and Tom Lasater, making them especially unique.

Texas­­­­ Western Press continued publishing the paperback edition of The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Raising until 1992, calling it one of TWP’s “all-time bestselling books” on the back cover.

Twenty years is an incredible run for any book, but The Lasater Philosophy’s story was not finished. In the mid-1990s the book’s rights reverted back to Laurie, and during a visit to San Angelo, Marcos Giménez Zapiola, a rancher from Argentina, suggested they translate the book into Spanish. The two men decided to collaborate on an expanded edition. Leaving the original manuscript largely unchanged, they added a new section which featured a selection of Laurie’s speeches given between 1982 and 1993. These writings addressed current challenges of the cattle industry and almost doubled the size of the book.

Marcos edited the new section and then translated the book into Spanish, making the first-ever Spanish edition in 1999. He then translated it back into English to create an expanded, Millennium Edition that was first published in 2000.

Today, older editions are traded in collector book circles, with early copies listed for upwards of $400. The Lasater Philosophy has been featured in university agriculture curriculums, and every week the Isa Beefmasters store ships orders as far away as New Zealand and Thailand.

This year marks the 52nd anniversary of The Lasater Philosophy’s publishing with its 17th edition. Rarely does a book enjoy a successful run spanning so many decades. The book’s continued longevity proves that Tom Lasater’s ideas remain as relevant today as they were groundbreaking during his career. In his preface, Laurie writes about the book: “After my family, and in spite of my dreams of ‘empire building,’ it has probably been the great accomplishment of my career.” In a 50-year career with many highlights, that is high praise indeed.

To order your copy of The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Raising, click here. 



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