BITING THE DUST

THE WILD RIDE AND DARK ROMANCE OF THE RODEO COWBOY AND THE AMERICAN WEST

A grueling year on the rodeo circuit with the bronc busters and bull riders who keep alive what Johnson calls America's ``most powerful myth.'' Joe Wimberley of Cool, Tex., is typical of the rodeo riders of the new Old West, says Johnson, Denver bureau chief of the New York Times. Wimberley was born and raised a cowboy, but his family lost the ranch when he was a teenager. He took to the rodeo at 18 and began winning in the 1980s, earning as much as $40,000 in a season, one-third of which went to entry fees and travel expenses. Kicked in the head by a bull and nearly killed, Wimberley hung up his spurs at 30. As the author notes, ``Cowboys do not wonder if they will become badly hurt, but when.'' Debt-ridden and injury-plagued, they spend the season sleeping in the backs of pickup trucks and in cheap motels. They accumulate points for remaining on the back of a wild, bucking horse for eight seconds; they get no grade or points if they are thrown. The top 15 riders in each category compete in Las Vegas in December for the $2 million purse in the National Finals Rodeo. The ``All-Around Cowboy'' (top vote-getter in three events) can make as much as $250,000, but most earn far less. Johnson offers welcome historical background, tidbits, and profiles of cowboys such as Turk Greenough, a star in the 1920s and '30s who went on to become a Hollywood stuntman. Today's stars, such as Ty Murray, the King of the Cowboys, who has won four consecutive national championships, and the Etbauer brothers, all three of whom qualified for the finals, represent what Johnson believes is a dying cowboy tradition, in spite of rodeo's growing popularity. Johnson sees through the noisy gaudiness of modern rodeo without offering a shrill exposÇ. He depicts tough, hard-working men living with privation and pain for the sake of eight seconds of furious heroics.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-79221-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

THE RUDY IN YOU

A GUIDE TO BUILDING TEAMWORK, FAIR PLAY, AND GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP FOR YOUNG ATHLETES, PARENTS, AND COACHES

An uplifting guide to sportsmanship. The subtitle says it all.

Using the example of Ruettiger, whose experience as a Notre Dame football walk-on inspired the 1994 film, Rudy, the authors rail against disrespectful behavior in sports, at any level. They argue that kids, parents and coaches are part of a matrix that can either create a joyful youth sports environment, or a nasty stew of overweening pride, gross expectations and antisocial behavior. With an old school bluntness, they plainly state how participants should act: Kids should have a clear sense of what they want to do, develop strategies for achieving their goals, listen and learn, show respect to all, cultivate a strong work ethic, be positive and helpful and trustworthy, and finally, be patient. Parents should be involved, too, but should always "remember to be the adults. Let the kids be kids." This means not projecting your own aspirations onto your children, while encouraging self-esteem and confidence. Coaches must know their sport (even if they are only volunteers), exemplify personal excellence, challenge the kids, earn their trust, be open to feedback and get everyone involved. The authors’ straightforward advice may seem obvious, but Phillips, Leddy and Ruettiger go further, providing solid examples of how to put these principles into practice. And for all the character building, they also appreciate that kids just want to have fun.

A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2005

ISBN: 1-58348-764-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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