Chasing the Rodeo: On Wild Rides and Big Dreams, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones, and One Man's Search for the West

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9780151010721: Chasing the Rodeo: On Wild Rides and Big Dreams, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones, and One Man's Search for the West
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From its roots as the quintessential Western pastime, rodeo has grown to an international, prime-time television sport. Steeped in tradition and the independent spirit of the range, aspiring cowboys and cowgirls are called to its high-stakes, rough-and-tumble fame as they risk their lives for eight seconds of triumph.

In Chasing the Rodeo W. K. Stratton follows this quest for one season of the pro rodeo and bull-riding tours. He explores the history of the chutes -- from rodeo's disputed origins (Prescott, Arizona, or Pecos, Texas?) to its current skyrocketing popularity. But out on the trail Stratton finds more than calf-roping and unrideable bulls, uncovering a culture complete with myths, codes of honor, million-dollar purses, Cowboy Church, and the kinds of legends that make good stories unforgettable.

Just such a story emerges here as Stratton tells of his runaway "rodeo bum" father --Cowboy Don -- whose specter haunts his travels on the circuit. As he learns more about the life that proved too seductive for his father to abandon, Stratton fills in a portrait of the man he never knew but whose legacy he couldn't help but inherit.

Filled with cowboy longing and rodeo dreams, this is a tribute to the characters of the West -- Freckles Brown, Lucille Mulhall (the first cowgirl), Wild Bill Hickock, Lane Frost, and today's superstars like Jesse Bail. In the great tradition of Wallace Stegner and Ken Kesey, W. K. Stratton fashions an expansive tale out of the gritty reality of the life around us. Chasing the Rodeo is a bucking, riveting, glorious ride -- you'll want to hang on for the whole go-round.

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The rodeo is in W.K. Stratton's blood. He attended his first one in utero just days before he was born (on Will Rogers birthday, naturally). He is also the son of a bull-riding cowboy that left him and his mother when Stratton was an infant. The search for this elusive "rodeo bum" father is an underlying theme of Chasing the Rodeo but its main focus is on the action in the ring. Stratton spent a year following the professional rodeo and bull-riding tours and he explores the circuit with a keen and sympathetic eye. He writes about the history of the sport and its place in the mythology of the West, cowboy legends, current stars, and classic rodeo towns, such as Prescott, Arizona, and Pecos, Texas--both of which claim the title as the true birthplace of rodeo. He also looks at the growing popularity of rodeo and bull-riding and what it means for its future now that major events have corporate sponsors and are held in Las Vegas casinos rather than fairgrounds. While acknowledging that the big money prizes are good for the athletes, Stratton worries that marketing considerations will force the sport away from the very traditions that make it interesting. As proof, he bemoans the fact that helmets and Nike shoes are starting to replace Western hats and boots at some rodeos. Still, he encounters plenty of true Western spirit and memorable characters during his journey to keep his love for the rodeo alive and his enthusiasm for his subject proves contagious. Even those who have never considered attending a rodeo will likely find themselves enthralled by this wild ride of a book. --Shawn Carkonen

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Published in hardcover by Harcourt, 2005, 0-15-101072-2

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9780156031219: Chasing the Rodeo: On Wild Rides and Big Dreams, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones, and One Man's Search for the West

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ISBN 10:  0156031213 ISBN 13:  9780156031219
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Book Description Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2005. Hardcover. Condition: New. First Edition.. 326 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. New Book. AMERICANA. Steeped in tradition and the independent spirit of the range, aspiring cowboys and cowgirls are called to the rodeo's high stakes, rough-and-tumble fame as they risk their lives for eight seconds of triumph. The author follows this quest for one season of the pro rodeo and bull-riding tours. Includes an Index. (Key Words: Rodeos, American West, Rodeos, Horses, Cowboys, Cowgirls, Wild West Shows, Roping, W. K. Stratton, Steers, Rough Riders, Prescott, Arizona, Round Ups, Lucille Mulhall, Jeans, Bailey C. Hanes, Frontier Days, Clowns, Bull Riding, Buffalo, African Americans). book. Seller Inventory # 18982X1

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