Shear Hard Work tells the story of shearers and brings to life the world of the shearing shed for the first time. From the 1860s, when shearers were first identified as the 'very dregs of the colonial democracy', to the present day, when Kiwi shearers set world records and shear sheep around the globe, shearers have played a key role in New Zealand life. A historian and qualified wool classer, Riseborough has travelled from merino farms in Alexandra to the women's world record attempt at Waikaretu, from "the first Maori in Milton" to Joe Paewai's Dannevirke shearing family, to tell this great New Zealand story. Riseborough recounts the history of shearing in the words of the shearers, shedhands, wool handlers and cooks who work in the sheds, compete at the shows and set the records. She chronicles key changes in the business - from mechanisation to the expansion of the shearing season and the shrinking of the New Zealand flock. She explores the changing culture of shearing - the way Maori whanau turned themselves into successful shearing gangs, how women entered the sheds as rousies and wound up as world record shearers, how Ivan and Godfrey Bowen professionalised the business. And she looks at those things that persisted - like 10-hour days, mutton chops for breakfast, and the glory of being the "ringer" who shore the most sheep in the day. Shear Hard Work is a great read that takes us into the heart of rural New Zealand. It illuminates the larger themes in our history - interactions between Maori and Pakeha, rural and urban society, change and tradition - and introduces us to some extraordinary New Zealanders who are on the job at 5am and sweat their way to success on the world stage.