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"The Last Cowboys" Paints A Vivid Picture Of The First Family Of Rodeo

May 16, 2018

Perhaps no job in America has been more romanticized and mythologized than that of the cowboy. From movies to songs, much of what we know about cowboys and the American West is often just a caricature of real life. A new book by  Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist John Branch aims to give us a different sort of look into the life of one prominent rodeo and cattle ranching family. It’s called The Last Cowboys – A Pioneer Family In the New West.

John Branch is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with the New York Times
Credit Catherine Branch / W.W. Norton

The Wrights might be the first family of American Rodeo – multi-generational saddle bronc champions. But outside the rodeo arena, the Wrights are also a contemporary family in a changing American West – struggling with issues like a changing climate, encroaching development, and financial pressures on the family’s cattle ranching business.

The book also has strong ties to the San Joaquin Valley, where Branch worked in the mid-2000's as a sports columnist for The Fresno Bee.  Branch joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the Wright family, their triumphs and struggles, and how a former editor of The Bee helped inspire the book.