Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Last Go Round: A Real Western” as Want to Read:
Last Go Round: A Real Western
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Last Go Round: A Real Western

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  602 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Out of the mists of Oregon lore, Ken Kesey has summoned a long-remembered story he first heard as a boy from his father around a campfire: the "last go round" at the Pendleton Round-Up in 1911, which pitted three cowboys against each other as they rode for the first world broncbusting crown. Photos.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1994)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Last Go Round, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Last Go Round

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  602 ratings  ·  41 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Last Go Round: A Real Western
Kevin Carson
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I should explain some of the background of the history behind Last Go Round. In 1911, the Pendleton Roundup, held on the Columbia River prairie in Oregon, was heavily promoted as the World Championship Rodeo of all time. Colorful characters such as William Cody (Buffalo Bill) were in attendance as well as all of the genuine rodeo elite of the time. Much like the author, Ken Kesey, I was introduced to the Pendleton roundup in the 1960s as the premiere annual rodeo event. We went in our western ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was actually born in Pendleton, where the Round Up is still held every year and it seems like half the West turns out for it. I remember very little of the events themselves, but I remember the buildup to the event every year: the parade with the Round Up Princesses and various tribes, the RVs rolling in from states on the far side of the Rockies, and the week we got off of school during Round Up.

Last Go Round is far more fiction than it is fact, but if I wanted to read fact I wouldn't have
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a really fun read. It is very different than Kesey's other books, in that it was just a feel good story about 3 guys competing at a rodeo. There is nothing super powerful about this, and it won't blow you away, but pretty much anyone will enjoy it.

The three main character are John Spain, George Fletcher, and Sundown Jackson (all real people), and this story follows them throughout the 3-4 days of the first ever World Championship Rodeo in Pendleton, OR (I think OR), in 1911. These guys
May 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
I lost interest 30 pages in. Not my cup of tea. Kesey's earlier works were a lot more interesting to me.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fun read! My favorite Ken Kesey book ever.
Ian Billick
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Entertaining but hard to follow at times.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kesey is a master of characterization and this book is low-key unputtable down.
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
This book is a very well-written story, with an interesting plot apparently based on a true story, and several interesting characters. It is, however, vastly different from Kesey's two better-known novels, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and "Sometimes A Great Notion". Oh, like them it has some larger-than-life characters triumphing over obstacles, and like them it is set in the American Northwest. But the writing style is far less idiosyncratic; like "Cuckoo's Nest", it is told in first ...more
Theophilus (Theo)
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults and high school teens (some sexual references)
Absolutely loved it. An exciting book about real people, a real event, and some riveting story-telling. I enjoy reading about African Americans in the West and this character, George Fletcher goes right up to the top of the heap with characters such as Deadwood Dick. Told from the point of view of someone who meets Fletcher on the way to the 1911 Pendleton (Oregon) Rodeo this story tells of the social problems in a turn-of-the-century western town without preaching. Other characters in the ...more
Kathleen (itpdx)
Oct 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fictionalized account of an early Pendleton Round-up, that featured a Nez Perce, an African-American, and a white southerner in a saddlebronc ride-off after a three way tie for the all-round title. The narrator is the southerner telling his story many years later in oral cowboy fashion. This was Kesey's last published novel and was written with his friend Ken Babbs.

"A rip snorter of a yarn (with) a surprising degree of wishful complexity." The New York Times

Lots of fun and humor but the book
Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Dec 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Not Kesey's best book for sure. While I liked the interaction between John Spain, Jackson Sundown, and George Fletcher, there were some glitches that threw me out of the story. At least two geography things were wrong, and then there was a horse thing that also didn't sit right with me. Little things like that which just don't work, and in a novelization of a real event like this, those are just the kind of details you want to get as correct as possible.

Oh well. Great characterization, and even
Ray Sinclair
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction about the Pendelton, Oregon rodeo of 1911. First person narration by one of the rodeo's stars, a young kid from Tennesse. He reports his slightly star-struck conversations and wild activities with two other, more experienced stars. All three are historical figures. Buffalo Bill and other historical characters have minor roles, but it is the relationships between the three stars that is the focus. Photographs.
Deon Stonehouse
The Pendleton Roundup is the setting for the last of Ken Kesey’s novels. He spins an entertaining yarn populated with many famous western characters, like Buffalo Bill Cody, around the real episode of a 1911 competition between George Fletcher, an African American cowboy, Jackson Sundown, a Nez Pierce bronco buster, and John Spain, a southerner. It is an entertaining novel focusing on a bit of Oregon history.
I found this title on a list of 40 Books set in the Pacific Northwest at I found this to be an amusing Western tale, although it was liberally sprinkled with un-politically correct race descriptions. Not out of place given that the story takes place at the first annual Pendleton Round-Up in 1911, though the book was published in 1994.
David Ward
Feb 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, westerns
Last Go Round: A Real Western by Ken Kesey with Ken Babbs (Viking 1994) (Fiction – Western). Kesey recounts an old Oregon cowboy tale that his father told him. It's the story of “The Last Roundup” on the Pendleton Ranch in 1911. It sounds a lot more interesting than it was. Think more Sometimes a Great Notion and less One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. DNF. My rating: 3/10, finished 2008.
DeMisty D.
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody and their mama, butt especially to college-aged kids
Addresses racism, sexism, sex, and bronco riding. What more can you ask for? Kesey's humor is exquisitely displayed, descriptions are bigger than the silver (or HD) screen, and the whole thing makes you want to be a cowboy/cowgirl. Or "Indian" (Kesey likes his big Native Americans). Or a black cowboy who's the best rodeo star in history. Fun.
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was a kinda interesting novel from Ken Kesey....the koolaid man....

Historical Fiction, written from the perspective of one of the main players in an event of history. Perhaps plays off the crude jokes....A White Cowboy, a black cowboy, and an indian cowboy walk into a those are the 3 main characters....great look at gender and race and culture rolled into one....

Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
the first Pendelton Round Up. I Read this story by our local Author Ken Kesey, And was very entertained. I truly hope that some of the story was true but do kinda doubt it. But when I go to Pendelton I intend to find out. Regardless this book was very good and from an author that my mom did not like much, But that is another story.
Mark Allen
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was the authors that drew me to this book--having thoroughly enjoyed all things Kesey, I was fascinated by a pairing with Babbs, another Merry Prankster.

The backdrop of an early 20th century rodeo was intriguing.

It did not disappoint.
Nancy Rojo
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites...a wild ride into this fictionalized account of the first Pendleton Rodeo. I loved the characters and it is one of my favorite books to give to friends who are outdoor type loving animals and independent characters both male and female.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Being from Oregon, I found this bit historical fiction interesting. I know Kesey is a big Oregon author, but this is the first book of his that I have read. The story is a mix of factual history and fiction surrounding the early days of the famous Pendleton Round-Up. I found it a good short read.
Jeff Ereverock
Jan 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Three riders compete against each other and collude with one another in the 1911 Pendelton Round Up
Carol Foisset
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Fun Oregon folklore along with Kesey's unique use of metaphors made for an interesting read. Great characters - 3.5
Giorgi Decarlo
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
It may have been the subject matter, I found it a hard slog to get through.
Ann Zweber
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Somewhere between liked and really liked. Gotta love Ken Kesey and his depiction the rodeo culture.
Brian Wilcox
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kesey has always been a favorite author of mine based on Sometimes A Great Notion and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This book is nothing like those but is a wonderfully charming read.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sierra
Shelves: good-novels
Great historical fiction. Cowboys in eastern Oregon.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Yeah buddy! I had fallin' off the reading wagon but this book has spurred me back aboard. I really enjoyed reading this.
Sometimes a Great Notion meets the Wild West... Not the same without Neal Cassady in there somewhere..
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable book, fun to escape into a good, simple story sometimes.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Roots: The Saga of an American Family
  • Fata care citea în metrou
  • Grief Cottage
  • Saker min son behöver veta om världen
  • Year of the Monkey
  • Wooden Fish Songs
  • Heating  Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union
  • The Demon Princes
  • Lit
  • The Art of Memoir
  • This Census-Taker
  • Three Loves
  • Saturday
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
  • The Foundation Pit
  • Good To Be God
  • Kill the Next One
See similar books…
American writer, who gained world fame with his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962, filmed 1975). In the 1960s, Kesey became a counterculture hero and a guru of psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary. Kesey has been called the Pied Piper, who changed the beat generation into the hippie movement.

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, CO, and brought up in Eugene, OR. Kesey spent his early years