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The last cowboys : a pioneer family in the New West
2018
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Summary
For generations, the Wrights of southern Utah have raised cattle and world-champion saddle-bronc riders--some call them the most successful rodeo family in history. Now Bill and Evelyn Wright, parents to 13 children and grandparents to many more, find themselves struggling to hang on to the majestic landscape where they've been running cattle for 150 years as the West is transformed by urbanization, battered by drought, and rearranged by public-land disputes. Could rodeo, of all things, be the answer?In a powerful follow-up to his prize-winning, best-selling first book, New York Times reporter John Branch delivers an epic and intimate family story deep in the American grain. Written with great lyricism and filled with vivid scenes of ranch life and the high drama of saddle-bronc competition, The Last Cowboys chronicles three years in the life of the Wrights, each culminating in rodeo's National Finals in Las Vegas. Will Bill and Evelyn be able to hold the family together as rodeo injuries pile up and one of their sons goes off on a religious mission? Will their son Cody, a two-time world champion, make it to the finals one last time--and compete with his own son? And will the younger generation--Rusty, Ryder, Stetson, and the rest--be able to continue the family's ways in the future?This is a grand and compelling work of reporting that, like Buzz Bissinger's Friday Night Lights, offers deep insight into American ritual and tradition. And in telling the Wright family's story, from branding days to rodeo nights to annual Christmas gatherings, Branch captures something vital of the grit, determination, and integrity that fuel the American Dream.An unforgettable book by one of the finest reporters of our time, The Last Cowboys is a moving tribute to an American way of life.
Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter Branch records in utterly enthralling detail the efforts of a multigenerational Utah ranching family, the Wrights, to survive a shifting American West. As patriarch Bill Wright and his beloved wife, Evelyn, struggle to nurture their small herd of cattle whether branding, repairing fences, or navigating regulations placed on the federal land they lease their sons, and their sons' sons, take to the rodeo circuit, riding broncos to supplement the family income and giving author Branch an oddly juxtaposed dual narrative of a family both working the land and forced by financial circumstances to forsake it. In letting the Wrights' story slowly unfold itself, Branch conveys the timeless, almost mystical appeal of ranching in America's west, even as Bill Wright, knowing the economic and social forces against him, decides in the end that it could work to allow women to set up a dozen tents down in the hollow for tourists. Heck, he could charge them (a lot) to help round up his cattle.--Moores, Alan Copyright 2018 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Prologuep. 1
Part 1Branding Dayp. 5
Part 2King of the Rodeop. 49
Part 3Cowbells in the Fogp. 133
Part 4Blood and Traditionp. 195
Epiloguep. 260
Acknowledgmentsp. 273
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