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The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  34 reviews
As the coach during professional football’s most storied era, Tom Landry
transformed the gridiron from a no-holds-barred battlefield to the highly-technical
chess match it is today. With his trademark fedora and stoic
facade, he was a man of faith and few words, for twenty-nine years guiding “America’s
Team” from laughingstock to well-oiled machine, with an unprecedented twent
...more
Paperback, 736 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Liveright (first published November 4th 2013)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Steve
May 28, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read a book and found you just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough because you just couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next? For me, Mark Ribowsky’s 2014 biography of legendary NFL coach Tom Landry wasn’t that kind of book. For me, I just couldn’t turn the 635 pages fast enough. But, for the other reason. I just couldn’t wait to finish this monstrous bio!

It’s not that Ribowsky’s had no experience at chronicling the life of famous people. The biographer has previously cov
...more
Ben Garrison
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mark Ribowsky is a terrific writer. Although the book is over 600 pages, I breezed through it because I couldn't put it down! It helps to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, but it's not a prerequisite. I grew up watching this team and now I know the rest of the story. The thing that struck me the most? How much his players loved him even though he was largely emotionally distant. Players such as Thomas Henderson even cried at his funeral--he was a father figure to many of them. The author does a sp ...more
Chris Doelle
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a must-read for any old school Cowboys fans. Read my full review here --> http://www.ridingwiththewindowdown.co... ...more
Alfred Weber
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reliving the glory years, but I got very tired of the liberal commentary. Much editing was needed on this windbag author.
Tex Reader
4.0 of 5 stars – The Life & Times of Landry AND the NFL.
(I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks, Phillip!)

This brought back fond memories of following the Cowboys as I, and they, grew up in Dallas in the 60’s. Any fan will love hearing about the old names of Meredith, Staubach, Lilly, Renfro, Green, Jordan, Reeves, Garrison, even bad boys Henderson, Rentzel, Thomas, Hayes, Gent.

Even if you aren’t a Cowboys fan, this book has great background on the NFL as it grew int
...more
Claire
Nov 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received The Last Cowboy as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Growing up as a child of the 1990s and as a fan of hockey and baseball before football, Tom Landry was essentially a vaguely familiar name before picking up this significantly-sized volume. However, Mark Ribowsky brings the complicated Landry--as well as the talented, often troubled teams he coached--to life.

Born and raised in Texas, after a brief stint playing professionally with the New York Giants, Landry fell into coaching, becoming
...more
Brian
I won this ARC through Goodreads' First Reads program.

When I get the book in the mail, I was shocked at how big it was, over 600 pages. After reading it, I felt it would have been a much stronger biography if it was cut in half. The book traces Cowboy's legendary football coach Tom Landry through his coaching days. But too often, it feels more like a biography of the Dallas Cowboys as it focused more on the team than on the coach. The season by season look got very reptitive, as did the breakdow
...more
Andrew
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Briefly – I find it ironic that one of the longest books that I've ever read in my life is a biography of a football personality. Reading “The Last Cowboy”, I can understand how trimming the experiences of Tom Landry would be difficult if one wants to capture the full depth and breadth of a larger-than-life individual.

This book is also the story of the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys during their respective Landry years – after all, one simply cannot remove the football team from the man'
...more
Andrew
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it

Briefly – I find it ironic that one of the longest books that I've ever read in my life is a biography of a football personality. Reading “The Last Cowboy”, I can understand how trimming the experiences of Tom Landry would be difficult if one wants to capture the full depth and breadth of a larger-than-life individual.

This book is also the story of the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys during their respective Landry years – after all, one simply cannot remove the football team from the man'
...more
Hank Pharis
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book even though the author seems determined to try to find faults with Landry.
Ultimately he fails to do much more than criticize Landry's stoic personality and his faith. On the other hand this is the most extensive biography of Landry that has been done. It goes into great detail about his early life and coaching career.
Tom Donaghey
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I have to say at the beginning that I have never been a fan of the Cowboys football team and, by extension, not into their coaches. Coaches come and go, seasons begin, get played out and end at some point. Coach Landry was an excellent coach being a teacher both of football and morality. To me he was a stone face in a hat on the opposing sidelines, but he did perfect the 4-3 defense, roamed the sidelines with his computer print outs and game plans, and truly helped the NFL explode into the behem ...more
Amanda Coussoule
Overwritten and underedited, the author can't decide whether he's writing about Tom Landry or the Dallas Cowboys on whole. Simple grammatical errors and superfluous words in sentences continuously distract from a narrative that is already disrupted by play-by-play details of games, scores and statistics of Cowboys players. As private a man as Coach Landry was, the author's access to his wife and son bring authenticity to the story and their personal insights into the man behind the fedora are th ...more
Shelby Johnston
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must start this review with the disclaimer that I am a HUGE Cowboys fan, so I came into this book with a very biased perspective. I really enjoyed reading this book, but I was not overly impressed with the writing of Ribowsky. I felt there were a lot of assumptions he made and conclusions about Landry that didn't weren't warranted based upon the information he was presenting in the book. Also, at a random part about three quarters into the book, he started to go first person in the writing. It ...more
Dianne Landry
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Not the best of books but it wasn't bad. Having read a biography of Vince Lombardi it was interesting to see the contrast in their styles of coaching. It was also fascinating to see just how into the '70s culture of sex and drugs seepede into the team.

I learned a lot but the biggest effect this book had on me was how it made me come the to realization that as long as Jerry Jones is the owner of the Cowboys I can't cheer for them. The things he did, not only to Tom Landry, but to other great Cow
...more
Douglas
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Won from Goodreads. Like the Dallas Cowboys, this story is long and complicated. I think this could've been shorter and more compact in terms of details, but for diehard fans, of which there are thousands and thousands, I think the details of his life make for an interesting read. I gave this copy to my Dad for a better review, as he lived during this time and can recall the details of each game, as displayed in this book. I'm going to update this review after he finishes, as he will make a bett ...more
Andrew B
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book. It covered the life of Tom Landry in detail from his early life in Mission, Texas through his tenure with the Cowboys, followed by a brief post-script for his life afterward. It was interesting to pull back the lens and see larger patterns of failures and successes in his life, and his complicated relationships with his players.

The writing could be a little too florid at times. There were a few passages in particular where Mr. Ribowsky appeared to have been chained to h
...more
Monique
I won this book from Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I found this book to be interesting but way too long! I enjoyed reading about Landy's coaching experiences especially during his assistant coaching days. I also really enjoyed how much insight the book gave into the Dallas Cowboys which is a team I have always held close to my heart. I definitely recommend the book to any football fans but be aware it is a very lengthy book that can tend to drag due to its repetitiveness.
Clara Roberts
This book was meant to be a 'hit job' on Coach Landry. Instead of Landry looking bad, many of his players came across as boozing and or pot smoking womanizers. Landry's demand for his players to adhere to decorum when representing the cowboys caused Ribowsky to constantly call Landry 'prissy ' or a prude. At the end of the book the author says Landry "created continuity and collegiality out of chaos, in times when that seemed impossible in an America tearing itself apart."
Greg Willis
Nov 10, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gave it up. This book is ill researched. Glaring errors in the first few pages, examples being that Merideth was Landry's first quarterback and Mission is 100 miles from College Station. If these easy to research facts were overlooked, no telling what else is not correctly reported. Not going to read a book I fear whose facts may not be true. Sad.
Harry Casey
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very comprehensive account of coach Tom Landry and his career in the NFL. More than just the Cowboys. His coaching with the Giants is also featured. His treatment by Jerry Jones will anger you. When Landry's wife was asked if the Cowboys were their family, she replied no that the Giants treated them better and she considered them family. I recommend this book for any fan of the NFL.
David Bard
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
A must read for any football fan. Mr. Ribowsky covers the turbulent times in which Landry and the Cowboys rose. You really gain an appreciation for the early days of the NFL as well. Mr. Ribowsky covers the glories and defeats evenly and turns a critical yet sympathetic eye on Landry's time at the helm of America's Team.
Lane
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: football
I liked the book but felt it could have been better. As much a book about the Cowboys and the leaders of the team (owners, GM, scouts) and players as it was about Landry. Too much about society and often hard to figure out the relationship to Landry.
A number of errors such as John McKay coaching the Bruins instead of the Trojans. Is this the result of poor editing or the use of misinformation?
Cynthia Herzog
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book on Goodreads First Reads

The narratives were easy to follow, in a precise well written style. Some of the stories were redundant in casting Landry's style of handling issues. Landry's small town background and development as a student athlete and coach were driven home.
Andrea D'avignon
Won this as a giveaway. Interesting book that surprised me by how large it was. As a long time fan, it was an interesting read to learn more about the Landry days. Recommend for all fans of the Cowboys and those who just love football history.
Tom Turbiville
Because of a few early factual errors, it left me wondering the authenticity of the rest if it. There was way too much written about Hollywood Henderson. He was one ugly chapter in Landry's life, not a defining element. A more accurate life story was already written. By Landry.
Kenny Dickson
Lots of little errors which makes me wonder about some of Ribowsky's other claims. He should have listed Pete Gent as a co-writer as much as he quoted him. He also seemed to make sweeping judgements about Landry's beliefs and opinions, especially regarding Landry's faith and moral beliefs.
John Yingling
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm giving this 3 stars because I feel that the author was way too harsh on Tom Landry. Overall, I liked the book, but the author's many negative reference's to Tom Landry's personality and coaching style became very tiring to read.
Betsy
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
for the die hard football fan. just was not interesting to me.
victor harris
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another top notch biography from Ribowsky.
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Too many big words; poor editing 1 3 May 20, 2014 04:42PM  

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Mark Ribowsky is the author of seven books, including the New York Times Notable Book Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball. He lives in Plainview, New York.

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