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Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  667 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
Now, for the first time in paperback, here is the remarkable story of Sandra Day O’Connor’s family and early life, her journey to adulthood in the American Southwest that helped make her the woman she is today—the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and one of the most powerful women in America. In this illuminating and unusual book, Sandra Day O’Connor tells, ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Modern Library (first published 2002)
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Jan C
Feb 10, 2013 Jan C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, 2013
i was surprised by this book. I guess I thought that because she is a conservative that it would show in this book. Maybe it does but this was written by the former justice and her brother about growing up on a ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border.

It was a hard life but one where she and her brother and sister learned about life. As children they helped with the chores of a ranch and were expected to do them right.

So it was a very enjoyable book and a look at a vanishing way of life. When I
Mimi Johnson
Nov 17, 2009 Mimi Johnson rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
am convinced that Sandra Day O'Connor did not write this book herself as its observations are devoid of any depth and is written on a grade-school level. While the book offers a much appreciated glimpse into the Arizona of days gone by, it reads as a series of disconnected events without any personal reflection on the part of the author. I expected much more from a former Supreme Court justice.
Feisty Harriet
Nov 15, 2016 Feisty Harriet rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-west, scotus
This memoir about growing up on a large ranch in the dry, dry country of Arizona and New Mexico. This is primarily about ranch life, the cowboys and ranch hands, their backgrounds, talking care of the animals and the land, the struggle of O'Connor's parents thru their lives to survive and become financially independent. The Day patriarch was tough, stubborn, and unmoving, and there are no apologies for him in this book, just a nodding of heads that "that's just his way." Honestly, it's pretty dr ...more
Jan 04, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it
This is Sandra Day O'Connor and her brother Alan Day's memoir of their childhood on a cattle ranch in the arid, open high desert country south of the Gila River on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. ("When the big rain came that lasted 40 days and 40 nights, Southern Arizona got half an inch.")
It resonated with me because for part of my childhood, I grew up on a ranch. Totally different climate--I was on the humid Gulf Coast of Texas--but we had the same orientation to our animals--the cattl
Nov 22, 2013 May-Ling rated it liked it
This book read almost like historical fiction more than a memoir. I've actually been lucky enough to hear Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speak in person. As a result, I think I like the book more than I would otherwise because it's like I could hear her reading it. This memoir is written as if its dictated and you can actually tell that in the writing style, which is kind of a weird thing because it's a book. You want the language to be more readable then this book delivers. Another thing that's ki ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Chris rated it liked it
A charming and delightful ode to a life and a time gone by. A heartfelt account of what it's like growing up on an isolated desert ranch in Arizona and New Mexico. It was hard work and bliss according to the first woman Supreme Court Justice and her brother. We hear about the eccentric and accomplished cowboys, the real West, as well as all the animals from horses to bobcats. Lots of field craft about herding cows too. Sandra actually left to go to school in El Paso but she loved the ranch and w ...more
Mark Mortensen
Jul 14, 2014 Mark Mortensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western, americana, memoir
This memoir by the first woman justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor and her brother H. Alan Day took this east coast native to a foreign terrain along the expansive Arizona/New Mexico boarder. Maybe it was my past appreciation of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour western novels combined with my current passion for memoirs, autobiographies and biographies that created my mind to drift with appreciation.

From coast to coast the heart of America is full of great folks living in harmony w
Michael Harris
Aug 30, 2011 Michael Harris rated it liked it
A gift from my daughter "since I like to read biographies". This fast and enjoyable read was not so much a biography as a picture about growing up on a ranch in a loving family surrounded by natural pleasures, hard work and an extended family of ranch hand or cowboys. She turned out very well as did her siblings. A refreshing perspective in this day of possessions and things ahead of family.
Dec 17, 2015 Brina rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Interesting account of what it is like to grow up on a ranch. Amazing that a former ranch kid grows up to be Supreme Court justice. Charming.
Deborah  Cleaves
Nov 24, 2016 Deborah Cleaves rated it it was amazing
Essential reading to understand the kind of people who make ranching work in a hard scrabble world. In some respects it reads as if directed toward 10-12 year olds in its simplicity of language and topics. It is best where it describes cowboys and lifetime ranch employees; worst where it talks about historical context and the BLM. The acceptance of a hardness of life is tough to reconcile with the mores currently prevalent. Things like hiring a permanent employee at age 6-7 who ran away from an ...more
Nov 22, 2016 Sharon rated it really liked it
Though I can't say that this was the best written book I've ever read, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I've always admired Sandra Day O'Connor, and reading her family's background was interesting. This is especially because her family lived in a part of the US that I am very familiar with. Such as the canvas water bag, something I hadn't even remembered for over 40 years using on my dad's farm( Many of her stories echoed stories I heard from my d ...more
Betty Adams
Dec 07, 2016 Betty Adams rated it really liked it
This woman, our first female Supreme Court Justice, owes so much of her canny, insightful, and common sense approach to legal issues clearly to her upbringing on a vast ranch with its own rythym and demands. It is a way of life that has largely disappeared, but gave her discipline, a sense of right from wrong, and flexibility. A very good read!
Dec 03, 2016 Jessica rated it it was ok
Interesting to learn about ranching and Sandray Day O'Connor. Very little to do with politics/law focus is 99.9% on her youth and the unique life of growing up on a cattle ranch.
Tula or KathyPotter Fitzgerald
I enjoyed Getting to know MS O'Connor from a different perspective. Liked her book so well that I gave a copy to a friend of mine.
Jim Slattery
Sep 19, 2016 Jim Slattery rated it it was amazing
No matter your political leanings, this is an utterly fascinating read. Taught me about a way of life I barely knew through TV westerns. Highly recommend.
Jan 30, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
The tagline exactly explains this book: Growing up on a cattle ranch in the American southwest. This isn't so much a personal memoir by Sandra Day O'Connor as a factual history of the Southwest told by focusing in on one family. The book looks at a vanishing way of life and a piece of history through short but detailed remembrances of a specific event or person. The stories aren't always very exciting, but they feel very real. You get the sense that the story of Sandra and Alan, DA and MO, is on ...more
Jan 10, 2008 Diane rated it it was ok
This is the story that Sandra Day O'COnnor, the first woman supreme court justice, tells about her life. I like memoirs and find it interesting to see what memories people select to describe themselves. Sandra Day Oconnor's book is not particularly well written and rather superficial, leading to more questions about her life than she answers. The entire description of what should have been a fascinating life on a huge ranch was very distant and almost like it didn't happen to her at all. She was ...more
Jen A.
Nov 24, 2011 Jen A. rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I don't quite remember how Lazy B ended up on my to read list, and I'm sure I didn't realize that the author was Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor until I started reading... But Lazy B is an interesting, well-written memoir about growing up on a ranch -- it clearly, rationally and with bridled emotion describes the wonder, frustrations, stewardship, trials and personalities that comprise life in an unforgiving climate and the uncertain livelihood of ranching.

When I was reading Lazy B, I
Sarah Jo
Oct 26, 2008 Sarah Jo rated it really liked it
This book is Sandra Day O’Connor’s homage to her ranch beginnings in a remote stretch of Southeastern Arizona. How could I not read an ode to a once had sparse desert living, written from a front row seat in DC? The writing is bland at times, but also strong and simple. The first chapters are each devoted to a cowboy or character that shaped life on the ranch before and after Sandra and her two siblings were born. The later describe in detail singular cattle drives, a story of the day the truck ...more
Oct 30, 2013 Kassi rated it it was ok
Honestly, the only way I'd recommend this book is if you are familiar with the area that the Lazy B is located, in southern Arizona. OR if you have some interest in cattle ranching. My husband is from the area near the Lazy B so we are familiar with the locations and some of the people mentioned in this book. We found some of the stories shared to be interesting because of that fact. I also grew up around cattle ranching having a father VERY similar to DA... So I could relate to some of those st ...more
Philip Blen
Apr 18, 2013 Philip Blen rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The entire book is made up of remembrances. Some a paragraph long, some memories a page. A chapter might be about cowboys falling off horses. No point, other then they fell off, either bruised or not. Or taking pride in sinking a fence post correctly. There are chapters, 2-4 pages about each parent. A couple of pages about each cowboy. And on and on.

Yes, the life of the cowboy was tough, and her parents made ends meet in a difficult situation. And eventually found financial stability. There are
Susan Grodsky
Sep 25, 2014 Susan Grodsky rated it it was ok
I read this hoping for insight into the mindsets of ultra conservative republicans. I can see how ranch life nurtured the admirable skills of self reliance, persistence, and hard work. But although the authors speak admiringly of the cowboys' competence and good humor there's plenty of just plain dysfunction: alcoholism, wife beating, gambling, bad temper, immaturity, impulsiveness, foolish pride.

I'm also underwhelmed by the authors' insights into public policy. Near the end they assert that th
Apr 19, 2015 Colin rated it liked it
I bought this on a whim before a trip to Arizona, since there was very little on Arizona in the bookshop I was browsing. Then the trip happened, and I never got around to reading it-- too busy indulging in the landscape! But a year later, this has made for a pleasant way to laze outside and remember great scenes, and hear about people of the kind I think I'll never meet.

This is genuinely a memoir-- it is not a political or legal tract in disguise, even if one of its authors is a Supreme Court Ju
Stephanie Mitchell
Jun 02, 2015 Stephanie Mitchell rated it really liked it
I withheld one star because of the folksy and often repetitive writing. It was distracting especially in the first half of the book. (I suspect that this labor of love written by two family members - one being *the* Sandra Day O'Connor - was given a wide berth, editorially speaking, by the publisher.) As confirmed in the acknowledgements at the end, it is obvious that several chapters are a verbatim transcript of oral recollections. Oral histories do not smooth reading make.

That said, I love the
Jan 30, 2014 Lexish rated it really liked it
This was so different than I thought it would be, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I expected a narrative-style memoir similar to Justice Sotomayor's book; instead, each "chapter" highlighted a particular person from (or aspect of) Sandra Day O'Connor's childhood growing up on a ranch out west. The tone struck me as very personal and honest, as though you were sitting listening to her tell you about the time that such-and-such happened. I had no idea this was the life she had lived. Readers hoping t ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Kathy rated it it was ok
I read this because I was going to see Justice O'Connor speak and I hoped it would give me some insight into what made her the person she became. In a way it did, because this is the story of hard lives cattle ranching in the Arizona/Mew Mexico border. No complaining was accepted, you just did what you had to do because that was the only acceptable behavior.

If your'e interested in early-mid 21st century ranching, horses and rural society, there's a wealth of detailed information. I am not intere
Jul 09, 2016 Vicki rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
Although the language can be simple at times, this book provides a fascinating glimpse into the ranch life that Sandra Day O'Connor grew up with - like Little House on the Prairie with a bit of a Southwestern flair.
O'Connor co-wrote this with her brother, and I suspect that many of the stories were from his recollections (understandable, given that O'Connor was often away from the ranch for her schooling) -
however, there are a few stories which are undeniably hers - one gem describes the first
Apr 01, 2008 Jason rated it it was ok
Read this because I went on a trip to Duncan, Arizona.

There were many interesting stories about the cowboys who worked on her ranch.

Also interesting to learn the original history of how certain politically connected European families (O'connor's Grandfather) are able to acquire massive ranching operations on public land at taxpayer expense, run the ranch inefficiently and be bailed out by the government, as the Lazy B was.

I would have enjoyed the memoirs of the Cowboys more, but their families d
Oct 05, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this book, but the writing wasn't very engaging and needed a substantial edit. The book suffered from being neither a collection of stories nor a chronological tale, which was frustrating because she repeated some of her stories. The content was great, if a bit lean. I grew up with a more modern version of this lifestyle, so I understood what she was talking about. And I definitely identified a family member or two in her descriptions of the crusty cowboys! I would recomm ...more
Dec 05, 2012 Margo rated it liked it
This memoir by Sandra Day O'Connor and her brother about life on an isolated ranch on the border of New Mexico and Arizona highlights how demanding life could be and the strength of the men who worked there. The book feels like a bunch of essays, a little repetitive. Her father was a relentless taskmaster but you don't get the feeling that she or her brother resented his techniques strongly. You do get an idea of how Sandra Day O'Connor became the strong minded Supreme Court judge she was.
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Sandra Day O'Connor is an American jurist. She served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 until her retirement from the bench in 2006. The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, she served as a crucial swing vote in some cases due to her case-by-case approach to jurisprudence and her somewhat moderate political views. However, during her time on the Cour ...more
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