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)
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