Over the years I have had the pleasure of writing about the Wright family of Milford, Utah. You know the ones—the family with more saddle bronc riding success in rodeo than any other tribe has equaled, or even approached—or ever will.
There’s a new book about the Wrights, written by New York Times journalist John Branch. It’s titled The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West. Over the course of a few years, Branch spent a good deal of time with members of the Wright family at home, at the family ranch on Smith Mesa, at grazing permits above Beaver, Utah, and goin’ down the road with the best batch of bronc riders in rodeo.
It’s a well-written book that lays bare all the triumphs and tragedies in the family, and there are plenty of both. In a family of thirteen kids raised by a pair of hard-working parents, there is never a shortage of domestic dynamics.
For one unfamiliar with ranch and rodeo life, the author does a pretty good job of capturing the ins and outs of the West; only a few odd expressions and descriptions betray his inexperience.
Evelyn Wright, matriarch of the clan, a friend, and one of the finest women I know, tells me it is strange to read about your life and your family, and that she and her husband, Bill, found a few errors but nothing significant. After reading the book, you’ll be impressed with their bravery in allowing the reporter into their lives, knowing what would be revealed.
The Last Cowboys is a fine book about a fine family surviving broken dreams, broken hearts, and broken bones.