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The Secret Life of Cowboys

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In this classic memoir, a young man facing a future he doesn’t want to claim has an inspiration—Go West. Tom Groneberg leaves behind friends and family, follows his heart, and heads to a resort town in the Colorado Rockies, where he earns his spurs as a wrangler leading tourists on horseback. Later, Groneberg moves to Montana, where he works for wages at a number of ranche ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 13th 2004 by University of Oklahoma Press (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Amanda
Jun 17, 2008 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like westerns or are familiar with ranch life; anyone who ever wanted to be a cowboy
Groneberg's non-fiction account of his love affair with the West, its land, and its people, is an enjoyable read for anyone who has ever thought, even for a second, that "I shoulda been a cowboy." An English major from Chicago, Groneberg chronicles how his love for the ranch life evolves from the romanticized West of myth to an honest admiration for the hardscrabble existence that actually exists in its place. In the process, Groneberg himself evovles as he is forced to confront his definition o ...more
Rebekah
Not what I expected. As per the cover, I thought this would be a humorous memoire full of personal vignettes to illustrate that deep down cowboys aren't that different from the rest of us. Instead, I got a serious autobiographical account of a city boy trying to make a success of his inner cowboy among the harsh Montana environs. While the reading was interesting and descriptive,the tone lacked optimism, and Mr. Groneberg didn't have a clear vision of what his cowboy rancher goal was. More than ...more
Aleeca
I didn't think this book held up to it's name. I'm not sure whether I was expecting a story about cowboys riding the range and what goes on during ranching, etc. or whether I expected an elicit tale of debauchery about cowboys in general.

This book was neither of those things. I thought the main character flaky and a bit whiny.
Abby
This book was well written and insightful, but a little sad. I passed it along to my mom after reading it. She loved it and now all her friends have read it and enjoyed it, too.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
What little boy doesn't think
about becoming a cowboy when he
grows up? Tom Groneberg actually
did it; he left his home
near Chicago and took a job as a
ranch hand in Montana.

Even if you are not interested in
ranching, you may be surprised to
find you have an unexpected urge
to relocate to the West and raise
cattle after reading this beautifully
written book.

Favorite Quote: "It begins with a poem, a haiku:
'Hard work with horses in a
beautiful setting. Write for more
info.'"
Glenda
Quality writing and a great story!
Jennifer
I can't speak highly enough about this book. It grabbed me in the gut. Groneberg has a great writing style, no lyrical jingles attached, just the bare bones of the human experience hung across the landscape that he adopted as home. It's hard to talk about a postmodern existence while staying grounded in the simplicity of the human experience and the land. Groneberg does it with flying colors.
Wes Young
This is a really beautiful book about love and loss, the focus of which is the American West. For a memoir in which so much of the author's hopes and dreams, loves and desires, end in heartbreak and sadness, the prose is utterly poetic - still maintaining that chance...
At times funny, at times wrenching, this is really a book that shouldn't be missed!
Cat
Really good book about what it takes to ranch ahe life, and work with animals in the west, what depending on the land really means, now. The author takes care not to overly mythologize the subject, and is very honest about his failings, and discoveries of strengths. Nicely written, very evocative.
Ashleeneva
No, this is nothing like "Brokeback Mountain", (though I AM a huge fan of E. Annie Proulx). It's the story of a boy and his dreams...and the story of how quickly we realize that dreams are often more difficult than we imagine them to be.
Bryce Waddell
about a guy that went to school at U of I and afterwards went to Colorado to try his hand at a ranch... currently lives in Montana. How could I not love this book? I only wish I had kept a journal when I was out there.
Jeanelle
May 12, 2008 Jeanelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
The sincerity of the author is what I loved about this book. I came away so impressed with all that goes in to running a ranch and keeping up the image of "cowboy"...happy to note that this book contained no swearing. Yee-hah!
Cathy
Just got tired of the protagonist whining. This was a BHG recommended book that was sounded like a decent coming of age book. It was repetitive, and seemed self-serving, got bored with him...
Stephanie A.
Surprisingly cool memoir of an inexperienced suburban college grad finding home in ranching out West. Not enough about horses, considering it was shelved with the equine books, but cows are good too.
jessica
Apr 23, 2007 jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my dad
Shelves: greatnon-fiction
i bought this book for my dad, but i read it before i gave it to him. it's a good read, although the author used a few too many flowery metaphors about his heart and how it felt.
Kelsey
Jan 15, 2008 Kelsey rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kelsey by: Erin Dawson
i think erin read this book? if not, it has COWBOY in the title and that makes me think of her. hopefully it will be enjoyable, as i wasn't in the mood for faulkner.
Erin Lovell
Such a gem! A wonderful coming of age tale of a man in love with the ways of the West and more! Can't wait to read One Good Horse..
Ron
Read my review at my blog.
Jill
I had to read this for a class on American Studies. It was really good as far as "required reading" goes.
Megan C
It's neat that he bought a ranch. He's a little sentimental for my tastes though.
Heather
I learned much more about cows. Now I know what a steer is!
dana
i still wish i were a cowboy.
Pam
Nov 27, 2007 Pam marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
11/27 rec via bookmooch
Keri
This book is great!
Lindsay
Lindsay marked it as to-read
Apr 16, 2015
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