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Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest Hardcover – January 22, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (January 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375507248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375507243
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Deep in the granite hills of eastern Arizona in 1880, H.C. Day founded the Lazy B ranch, where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her brother Alan spent their youth, a time they recall in this affectionate joint memoir.

"We belonged to the Lazy B, and it belonged to each of us," write O'Connor and Day. "We thought it would always be there." Weathering events from the Great Depression to cyclical drought, they worked the ranch's 300 square miles alongside a colorful crew of cowboys, learning the ways of cattle, horses, and people, lessons they share in well-turned anecdotes. They also learned a system of values that "was simple and unsophisticated and the product of necessity," one that has followed them into the larger world. Court watchers and fans of Western writing alike will take pleasure in this multigenerational account of life on the range. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

This memoir-cum-natural history evinces a clear picture of the American Southwest during the early to mid 20th century. Though O'Connor's name initially conjures images of austere black robes and the halls of justice, a very different person emerges from the childhood recalled here. A collaboration between O'Connor and her brother, the book recounts the lives of their parents "MO" and "DA" (pronounced "M.O." and "D.A.") and the colorful characters who helped run the Lazy B ranch. Growing up on the Gila River flowing from New Mexico to Arizona during the 1930s and '40s, the children quickly learned about the desert's abundant and dangerous creatures and plants. And no experience of Western ranch life is complete without the constant struggle for water leading to disputes over grazing rights. Though life was often harsh, MO kept her children educated and imbued with a sense of dignity. The authors' keen sense of loyalty to their childhood home endures: "Life at the ranch involved all of these components association with our old-time, long-suffering, good-natured cowboys; living in isolation with just one another and with few luxuries; ... seeing the plant, animal, insect, and bird life of the Southwest close at hand; and enjoying the love and companionship of MO and DA." O'Connor attended Stanford University, realizing the dreams of her grandfather and father; there, she took a class from a law school professor and started down the path leading to the U.S. Supreme Court. Day ran the Lazy B until its sale in 1986. The authors' delight in Lazy B enhances this quiet account of a bygone era. B&w photos throughout. (On-sale: Jan. 29)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Very historical and rich in detail.
LuRae Fischer
No work was too hard and no burden too great to defeat them; they shared a great life because, "The hard work somehow made it taste better."
Theodore A. Rushton
It is great that Sandra and Alan have memorialized their beloved Lazy B ranch.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By John Knight on March 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Despite her status as the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and her background as a Stanford graduate and prominent lawyer, Sandra Day O'Connor was not--repeat NOT--a child of privilege. Granted her Daddy ran a cattle ranch spanning two states and she never really wanted for anything, but the childhood which she relates (with her co-author, brother Alan) in "Lazy B" was a most challenging, liberating, independence-building one indeed.
Her grandparents started this life and her parents took over--running a huge cattle ranch, raising three children and instilling traditional values of frugality, self-reliance and hard work. We learn about her dad, DA; her mom, MO; and several interesting, independent cowboys, among them Rastus, Jim Brister, Bug Quinn and Claude Tipets. Just names in a review, these lonely, uneducated, but remarkable men take on real life--real cowboys in the twentieth century! Here's an example: Brister, to tame an unruly horse, wrestles it to the ground in a display of awesome strength--while sitting on its back!!
Sandra accompanies her dad on his treks around the huge ranch fixing windmills, rounding up cattle, fixing fences, and, in general, doing the work of the ranch. She is an important part in the running of the ranch. Her father barely acknwledges her when she is late delivering lunch to the men working far from the homestead--despte the fact that she has had to change a flat tire on the ancient truck with its frozen lugnuts all by herself.
The book stays focused on her childhood, her family and the ranch. We learn about her adult life, including her appointment to the Supreme Court in just a few pages. At first I was surprised at such a cursory treatment of such an important career. But in learning about her childhood upbringing on the Lazy B we really learn all about the adult Sandra Day O'Connor. This is an interesting read both as biography and as the evocation of a vanished time and place. I recommend it highly.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Sandra Day O'Connor and Alan Day have written a book that portrays ranch life in a desolte area of Arizona and New Mexico so vividly that the reader is swept away to a place and time that can be visited only through reading the Day's memoirs.
Most people know little of southwestern ranch life except as presented through Hollywood's interpretation on the silver screen. "Lazy B" reveals the every day struggles of ranchers and cowboys, with intimate knowledge of and compassion for the characters, the cattle and for the land. The authors share what it was like to grow up on a ranch far from a paved road and without neighbors or playmates. Some of the antics are side-splitters. The hard work and uncertainties of life on the ranch are told in a way that touches the reader's sensitivities.
It was hard to put "Lazy B" down while reading it and I was sad when I finished it; it was something joyful and heart-warming to look forward to every evening. I heartily recommend "Lasy B" for its marvelous stories, its historical value, its humor and the strength of character it presents. One of our country's most prominent women and her brother have given us a wonderful gift by sharing their lives in this book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Ritter on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Growing up in a city, I always wondered during car trips through ranchland how the people there lived. Was it a hard life? Lonely? Were they like us in the city?
I knew from movies and TV that calves in pastures were grown into large steers through a gradual process of fistfighting and gunslinging, with the cowboys taking frequent breaks to drink whiskey and play poker. But that was only part of the story. What role did the women and children play? Why the windmills? Who provided basic services?
All these questions and more have now been answered by a Supreme Court Justice, of all things. Lazy B is Sandra Day O'Connor's memoir of her girlhood on a ranch in the desert Southwest. The simple unaffected style of her writing is just right to convey the power of the story: a family living on a desolate ranch for 113 years--a happy family, a resourceful and persistent family.
The Day ranch had already been operating for 50 years when Sandra was born in 1930, and was still going strong when she was appointed to the high court 51 years later. The Days didn't have hot running water until 1937, but when they did it was from a solar heater designed by Sandra's father--40 years ahead of the solar energy craze of the 1970s.
That sort of self reliance and innovation is one of the main themes of the book: when they needed more water they built windmills to bring it up out of the ground. When the windmills broke, they fixed them. Before the windmills and solar heater, the limited hot water for bathing was used in sequence: first Sandra's mother, then her father, then the children, then the ranch hands, if they had any interest in the water that remained. Not a cushy life, but several of the cowboys liked it enough to stay at Lazy B for over 50 years.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I loved reading this beautiful, gritty account of the remote Arizona cattle ranch where O'Connor and her brother grew up. The book is a portrait of the Lazy B ranch and the family and cowboys who created and sustained it for over a century. O'Connor's account is unromantized and yet touching, and it succeeds in vividly revealing a bygone way of life from the old West.
We see the the daily rhythms and activities of ranch life, the ongoing struggles of the Day family to keep the ranch afloat, and portraits of the colorful, rugged cowboys who worked at the Lazy B for most of their lives. And we hear the perspectives and fond recollections of the young girl (O'Connor) and her brother who grew up there.
If you are drawn to the West, you'll enjoy this book as much as I did.
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