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Dragging Wyatt Earp: A Personal History of Dodge City [Kindle Edition]

Robert Rebein
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Dragging Wyatt Earp essayist Robert Rebein explores what it means to grow up in, leave, and ultimately return to the iconic Western town of Dodge City, Kansas. In chapters ranging from memoir to reportage to revisionist history, Rebein contrasts his hometown’s Old West heritage with a New West reality that includes salvage yards, beefpacking plants, and bored teenagers cruising up and down Wyatt Earp Boulevard.

Along the way, Rebein covers a vast expanse of place and time and revisits a number of Western myths, including those surrounding Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the Cheyenne chief Black Kettle, George Armstrong Custer, and of course Wyatt Earp himself. Rebein rides a bronc in a rodeo, spends a day as a pen rider at a local feedlot, and attempts to “buck the tiger” at Dodge City’s new Boot Hill Casino and Resort.

Funny and incisive, Dragging Wyatt Earp is an exciting new entry in what is sometimes called the nonfiction of place. It is a must- read for anyone interested in Western history, contemporary memoir, or the collision of Old and New West on the High Plains of Kansas.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Rebein was born in 1964 in Dodge City, Kansas. His gritty parents raised seven sons: a contractor, a day-trader, four lawyers, and an English professor. This book’s good Dodge City history includes clarifying details on Wyatt Earp: a blonde, teetotaling, Republican deputy, who often pistol-whipped—but rarely shot—the mainly Rebel cowpokes of Dodge. The Wyatt Earp of the title, however, is a boulevard. “Dragging” means to cruise. This memoir feels desperate for weighty experiences or quirky characters to fill pages, and the essay format intensifies that lack of cohesion. We find scattered nuggets of interest, a carrying page, or even a decent chapter. Auto “body men” are like hairdressers that bounce from salon to salon. Religious connection often is less about faith than about not questioning origins. As he horsebacks a corporate cattle feedlot, we do empathize with a rural-raised professor who struggles to see the wrong his vegan colleagues would. Even the most ordinary life can rivet, but this diluted book lacks the insight, perspective, or other trick to pull us totally in. --Dane Carr


"In many ways, [Rebein's] experience mirrors that of a whole generation who grew up in rural places knowing that they would leave.  And then they return as visitors to a place where they can't stay, but can't stay away from."

- Rex Buchanan, Kansas Public Radio

"Rebein's memoir gives us a chance to think about our own relationship with our own hometown, recall our own stories, our own dreams. The book helps us remember the things we treasured in our town, what we took away from that place, and what we left behind."

- Cheryl Unruh, Emporia Gazette

"[The book's] strength lies in Rebein's easy way of mixing personal tales and history.  His portraits of western icons such as Custer, Coronado, and Earp are just as vivid as his portrayal of the colorful characters who prowled the salvage yard."

- Steven Hill, Kansas Alumni Magazine

"The book is at its finest in its final section, which deals with a cowboy's favorite subject: horses. Here Rebein unpacks his own and his family's relationship to the equine, discusses the history of the horse and its uncanny bond to humans, and gives a candid account of his own attempts at cowboying after spending much of his adult life in air-conditioned universities."

- Emma Faesi, NUVO

"Rebein evocatively reconstructs what it was like growing up in Dodge in the 1970s and '80s as the farming and ranching economy soured. The result is a riveting meditation not just on the Old West versus the New West but on how to treat the past with reverence while refusing to become trapped by it."

- Nick Gillespie,

“For a young Rebein, the world of wrecked cars became a wonderland, and he writes lyrically of the things that turned up in them, from porn to lighters to photographs to ammunition. . . . A minor but well-crafted work, and an all-too rare glimpse of daily life in rural America.”

— Kirkus Reviews

"'We'd been raised for export,' Rebein notes of his Dodge City upbringing. Yet this expatriate warmly merges his personal history with Dodge's history and culture to find his own place under the stars of the Great Plains of Western Kansas."

— Thomas Fox Averill, author of Rode

"Charming, searching, and haunting all at once, this book makes me nostalgic for my own handful of years on the Great Plains."

— Bob Cowser, Jr., author of Green Fields

Product Details

  • File Size: 694 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Swallow Press; 1 edition (February 13, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B77NBL0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631,997 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended--Couldn't put it down March 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a well-written, insightful account of growing up in a small midwestern town full of history and mischief that so many of us can either identify with or envy. The author takes us along in his journey of finding his place within his family, his school, and his hometown and the discoveries he continues to make in this quest. He has obviously done a tremendous amount of research and corrects many embellished stories about historical figures of the old west including Wyatt Earp and Custer.

A delightful read, especially for history buffs of all ages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUCKLOAD OF LAUGHTER AND TEARS March 28, 2013
By tom
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Those who have not witnessed the culture from which this book grows will want to read it twice. So will those of us who have lived some of it. There may be other cultures with such extremes of beauty and harshness, adversity and joy, but I can't think of any. Many of the people who grew on this land bring us lessons in stoicism, persistence, values-setting, toughness, humor and love. We learn some of it from Robert Rebein. It is a helluva book. I want to get back there now and meet some of them again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man Meets City July 6, 2013
In this book of engaging essays, Rebein deftly weaves the personal with the historical. Along with getting a sense of what it's like to grow up on the Plains (and to leave, and feel the pull to return), I learned a lot of Real Stuff about Dodge City, horses, feedlots, and much more. None of the essays feel didactic, though. They're all smart without being ponderous, wondering but not wandering, and often funny but never fluffy. I loved this book, and hope to see another book of essays from this writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book May 29, 2013
By Sackley
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed reading this, it brings back those memories of when I was younger and we would 'Drag Earp' meet up with friends and talk - those were the good ole days.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's home...what can I say. April 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I think we all looked to leave...and for some odd reason, we keep denying the urge to return, time and time again. Rob hit it on the nail...and went back a did the things that we all wished we had when we were young in Dodge. Thanks for the memories, as they say...and even more so, thanks for the history lessons so wonderfully woven into the story. A pleasure to read...and disappointing to finish, (which is the best compliment I can give). Darren Chaffin
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your run-of-the-mill memoir! December 27, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not just a collection of essays of recollection from growing ...It is an extremely well-written memoir of life with historical analogy. I grew up in Dodge City and remember the Rebein family name but did not know the much younger author personally. The title was what caught my eye because I also spent many hours "draggin' Earp" in my teen years. The book goes way beyond those days. This is a great read! My congratulations to Robert Rebein for capturig the spirit of the Dodge City that we understand, remember, and love!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Slice Of Life From Home June 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Robert Rebein really captures the life of teens in southwest Kansas during the seventies and eighties. I was only eighteen miles away and a few years ahead, and what he says rings true. His other stories about what it takes to be a cowboy, life in the Catholic Church, growing up in his family and the history of Coronado's travels in this area so many years ago round out a very tasty selection of stories.

I was there, and it's all true!
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More About the Author

Robert Rebein was born and raised in Dodge City, Kansas, where his family has farmed and ranched since the late 1920's. He studied writing at the University of Kansas, Exeter University in England, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned his MFA. His first book, "Hicks, Tribes, & Dirty Realists" (2001), a work of literary criticism, examined the role of place in the work of an array of contemporary American writers. After the publication of "Hicks," Rebein began writing memoir essays set in his legendary hometown, collecting these in his second book, "Dragging Wyatt Earp: A Personal History of Dodge City" (2013). Rebein lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife, Alyssa Chase, and their two children.

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