Although I have done the usual statistical and historical work one might hope for in a book such as this, I have also benefited greatly from my association with Willard Cochrane and a group of his friends. For several years now I have been fortunate to have had lunch at the local Red Lobster every week with Will, Burt Sundquist, Turner Oyloe, Dale Dahl, Vernon Ruttan, and Arvid Knudtson. The influence of their stories, advice, and readings of earlier drafts is everywhere in this book.
Several of Will's other friends from over the years also took time to comment on this manuscript at various stages along the way to publication. Lee Day, Elmer Learn, Martin Abel, Alex McCalla, John Schnittker, Reynold Dahl, and Sherwood Berg are due special thanks. I also took advantage of the time and talents of many of my colleagues and former students: Lynn Hamilton, William Chambers, Michael Duffy, Brian Buhr, John Ikerd, Suzanne Wood, Karl Stauber, Mark Ritchie, Scott Peters, and Carmen Fernholtz come to mind. Patricia Schwarz was a patient and capable typist throughout the production of the manuscript. My editor-in-residence, Jane Dickerson, can take full responsibility for any text that reads well.
My greatest thanks go to Willard Cochrane. He has been both a wonderful friend and a great inspiration to me over the past several years. He graciously offered his time on countless occasions to explain critical parts of the history of American agriculture and the role he played in shaping it. I also had full access to his publications, his correspondence, and his personal papers as I prepared this book. Without Will's patience and dedication to this project, I would not have been able to complete it.