The Last Cowboys is one part ethnography, one part sports writing. Branch spent three years with the Wrights, at their homes, at their ranch, and on the road to countless rodeos. The result is a warm, fascinating account of a family that might not know how extraordinary they are.— Rikki
"A can't-put-it-down modern Western." —Kirk Siegler, NPR
Longlisted for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
The Last Cowboys is Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter John Branch’s epic tale of one American family struggling to hold on to the fading vestiges of the Old West. For generations, the Wrights of southern Utah have raised cattle and world-champion saddle-bronc riders—many call them the most successful rodeo family in history. Now they find themselves fighting to save their land and livelihood as the West is transformed by urbanization, battered by drought, and rearranged by public-land disputes. Could rodeo, of all things, be the answer? Written with great lyricism and filled with vivid scenes of heartache and broken bones, The Last Cowboys is a powerful testament to the grit and integrity that fuel the American Dream.
About the Author
John Branch is a reporter for the New York Times. His feature article about an avalanche in Washington State, "Snow Fall," won the Pulitzer Prize; he has been featured three times in The Best American Sports Writing; and his first book, Boy on Ice, won the PEN/ESPN Prize for Literary Sports Writing. He lives near San Francisco.
The Last Cowboys is a beautiful book, threading deep reporting into a gorgeously written narrative. It is American portraiture at its best.
— Susan Orlean
One hell of a ride.
— Carson Vaughan
Remarkable.… [The Last Cowboys] has an uncommon ambition: it’s a story not just of rodeo, but of the contemporary West.
— John Swansburg
Gripping.… What Branch focuses on so beautifully is how one remarkable American family navigates the situation of wanting to do dangerous, peculiar and deeply impressive kinds of work.
— Nathan Deuel
The Last Cowboys is informed by scrupulous and compassionate reporting, casting light on a side of the sporting world typically hidden from view.
— Andrew Graybill
The Last Cowboys is a humble but sweeping portrait of a humble but highly accomplished family.
— Chris Vognar
Keenly observed and artfully conveyed.
— Michael Berry
A fascinating dive into what it’s like to make a living by horseback, both on the range and at the rodeo.
— Christopher Collins
Branch does a beautiful job chronicling a family as it navigates old traditions in a new, fast-paced century.… The Last Cowboys is an excellent, compassionate book.
— Michael Schaub
[The Last Cowboys] isn’t just about winning saddle bronc titles.… It’s about the Old West becoming new.