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The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West (Hardcover)

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Cinch up your saddle, you're goin' for a ride!  With every page, expect dust.  Dirt.  Broken bones galore.  Empty beer cans.  A faint whiff of sage brush mixed with sweat.  Long days.  Trailers full of rambunctious steers.  Rock slides.  And the best darn family of bronco riders that ever set saddle on America's professional rodeo circuit.


The story begins with Joseph Wright and his young family who joined the great Mormon migration to Utah in 1849.  The Wrights became one of 220 families settling about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, near today's Zion National Park.  But that was then.  Seven generations later the Wrights -- still eking out a living in the area -- realized that rodeos could be a cowboy's salvation.  Soon, they were barn-storming the West.  If there's one thing about Mormons, they know how to have kids -- and in this family, each kid rode and bucked better than the next.  Result?  At any big-purse rodeo, there might be eight -- count 'em, eight -- Wrights riding.


So, what is it about rodeos?  For the best-of-the-best, it's an all-consuming life.  And it tends to blow anything else in life away like a tumbleweed.  Professional golf or tennis can do the same, but rodeo riding is like an itch that never goes away.  Sure, there's money to be had.  And if you add up the hours rodeo riders spend getting equipped, getting to events, getting a grip on horses and staggering home at wee hours of nights -- most cowboys are probably netting around a buck fifty an hour.  But the Wrights -- who some claim them to be "the most successful rodeo family in history" -- use rodeos to keep their place in history thriving.


John Branch, the author, spent years climbing atop three generations of the Wright family as they roped, branded and tagged calves.  Castrated steers.  Ran them in and out of Smith Mesa.  He hit the road crammed into the back seat of trucks on long drives to the next rodeos.  This is another world.  And what you'll realize as the real deal?  If the Wrights can survive public-land disputes and periodic droughts, their family will be able to weather their cowboy world for another seven generations.  Come on along.

— Bob Wells


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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393292343
ISBN-10: 0393292347
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Pages: 288
Language: English

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