Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Last Cowboy Paperback – June 1, 1991
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
A work of nonfiction by a nonwesterner (Kramer lived and worked in Europe), the book does its best to deromanticize and demythologize the American cowboy and the business of ranching. She has picked as her subject a middle-aged cowboy, Henry Blanton, who has lived and worked most of his life on ranches in the Texas Panhandle.
The grandson of Texas cowboys, Henry has always yearned for his own cattle ranch, but turning 40 he is still working for other men. His current employer is a well-to-do ranch owner who, according to Henry, wouldn't get out of his car if there was a cow within 100 feet. Fiercely proud, Henry is disappointed with his life and at times feels ashamed of his failed dreams. He drinks too much and with his brother Tom gets too easily into fist fights that end with broken windows, taking exception to police officers, and spending the night in jail.
A skilled ranch worker, with a vast knowledge of raising cattle, Henry's role models are the men in Hollywood westerns. He emulates their strength of character and stoic self assurance. Yet Kramer finds little to admire in him, revealing his scarcely disguised racial prejudices, his chauvinism, his hatred of "hippies" and "Easterners," his rigid conservatism, his self-pity, his rage, and his envy of men who have grown rich through luck, cleverness, or anything but perseverance and hard, back-breaking physical labor.
His wife Betsy, former high school cheerleader and homecoming queen, has raised four daughters in the vast, sweeping isolation of the Texas plains. Only their youngest still lives at home, an adept horsewoman and born-again Christian, who is also much attracted to boys. If Kramer shows any respect for these people, it is a pained sympathy for Betsy, who despite growing signs of depression tries to remain emotionally tough and stand by her man.
Where the men and women of the West have no doubt been idealized in popular imagination, this book tries single-handedly to correct the balance. As such, it's a tough read and may seem less than even-handed. If you approach it as a story about individuals who could be living anywhere, it's a grim but compelling account of hard lives and disappointed hopes.
I laughed several times while reading this book at the author almost comical attempt to portray the subject and his family as living a hard, terribly unfortunate life without electricity, running water, telephone and indoor facility. In 1977 was she so many generations removed from the conveniences of the modern world that she thought them having it worse than anyone else? I personally know a number of people who did have indoor plumbing until several years after the publication of this book.
I would recommend reading it as it presents a way of life that still exists (although in a much more diminutive form than once was) from the viewpoint of an outsider.