Joshua Rich
June 27, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Secret Life of Cowboys

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Tom Groneberg
publisher
Scribner
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A

Bred in Chicago’s suburbs, Tom Groneberg got hooked on horses during a summer stint at a dude ranch, and moved to Montana to indulge his inner John Wayne. In The Secret Life of Cowboys, a series of eloquent vignettes, he describes the sounds and smells of the ranching routine (the stickiness of a calf birth, the persistent crying of a branding session) in a sharp, immediate tone that will lure even the most aloof city slicker: ”The whole world looks like a Copenhagen ad or a Marlboro commercial.” And the whole world offers a primal and romantic thrill until it comes time to euthanize a sick animal or add up the bills. Groneberg brings poignant, sober honesty to a range where sentimentality and fear have no home.

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