Biting the Dust: The Wild Ride and Dark Romance of the Rodeo Cowboy and the American West (Paperback)
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To the fan, the rodeo cowboy is the distinctly American embodiment of the romantic Old West. But to the young men who live the profession, the realities are modest pay, continuous travel, and the constant threat of injury. While he was the Denver bureau chief of the New York Times, Dirk Johnson spent a year on the professional rodeo circuit with cowboys, watching them try to hang on to bucking horses and Brahma bulls—and to wives and livelihoods that seemed only one fall away from disappearing. Biting the Dust covers the circuit’s biggest events in Denver, the capital of the New West, to small towns on the Great Plains like McCook, Nebraska, where rodeo continues to thrive even as the population shrinks. Johnson takes the reader beyond sentimental visions of the rodeo cowboy and the American West and provides an unforgettable and authentic story of the rodeo today.
About the Author
Dirk Johnson is the Chicago bureau chief for Newsweek magazine and a five-time winner of the New York Times Publisher’s Award.
“Detailing their triumphs and disappointments as well as their tragedies, Johnson brings these cowboys into the arena as, one by one, they fly out of the chute.”—Publishers Weekly
“Johnson’s book brings to life the reality of a year on the rodeo circuit so vividly you can feel the grit in your teeth. Presented in a journalistic style, this personalized account breaks through the romantic image to reveal the real thing; short vignettes and word pictures showcase the personalities, thoughts, and feelings of the competitors more graphically than illustrations. An evocative view of the American West as its traditions are lived today.”—Booklist
"As Johnson reveals, the story of life on the professional rodeo circuit is more about hardship than triumph. But whatever their situation, the author's connection with his subjects and ability as a storyteller makes Biting the Dust a timeless narrative."—Nebraska Life