The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry

The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry

by Mark Ribowsky


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A Publisher's Weekly Best Book of 2013

An action-packed biography of a man, his team, and the league he helped create—in the tradition of Maraniss’s When Pride Still Mattered.

Tom Landry, thecoach during professional football's most fabled era, transformed the gridiron from a no-holds-barred battlefield to the technical chess match it is today. With his trademark fedora and stoic facade, "God’s Coach" 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 twenty consecutive winning seasons and two Super Bowl titles. Now, more than a decade after Landry's death, acclaimed sports biographer Mark Ribowsky finally takes a fresh look at this much-misunderstood legend, giving us a distinctly American biography that tells us as much about our country's fascination with football as it does about Landry himself.

While his coaching years are set against the backdrop of a nation roiling with racial and political turmoil—and the anything-goes partying constantly threatening the all-American mystique—The Last Cowboybegins amid the dusty roads of Mission, Texas, where Tom Landry’s childhood played out like a homespun American fable. It then takes us to the war-torn skies over western Europe, where the straight-A student and high school football star piloted a B-17 through thirty harrowing, at times near-fatal, missions. And finally back to a booming Texas, where he continued his faithful march toward gridiron immortality.

In between, however, we learn that Landry was an infinitely more complex figure than his legions of fans and critics could have ever imagined. Indeed, for all his restrained emotions and old-world courtliness, he was a man of great reach and curiosity: an art and wine connoisseur, a world traveler, a collector of first-edition old-West literature. Drawing from dozens of exclusive interviews, Ribowsky reveals that Landry was anything but "cold," and it was actually his depth as a human that positioned him to become an avatar of change, first as the civil rights movement spilled onto the field and, later, as the game of football transformed into something unrecognizable to those who had come before him.

But Landry's virtues notwithstanding, he was hardly perfect and nor were his players. From the unending quarterback controversies between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton to the locker room battles with Duane Thomas and Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson to the heartbreaking loses suffered at the hands of Landry’s only true rival, Vince Lombardi, The Last Cowboybecomes a fascinating portrait of a fiercely Christian man desperately trying to stay the course in a city whose flamboyance mirrored that of the team he built.

The result is a definitive biography that will frame its subject within a larger American panorama while also reintroducing us to a legend whose impact on the NFL, and the sport itself, is nothing short of immeasurable.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780871403339
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 11/04/2013
Pages: 720
Sales rank: 1,231,190
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Mark Ribowsky is a New York Times acclaimed, best-selling author of fifteen books,
including biographies of Tom Landry, Al Davis, Hank
Williams, and most recently, In the Name of the
Father: Family, Football, and the Manning Dynasty.
He lives in Florida.lorida.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part I You Can't Get the Hell Out of Texas

Prologue: "It's a Texas Thing" 3

Chapter 1 Missionary Man 11

Chapter 2 A Grim Reaper 30

Chapter 3 Big Man on Campus 49

Chapter 4 A Texas Yankee 68

Chapter 5 "Okay, Tom, You Explain It" 85

Chapter 6 "Sam's My Man" 105

Chapter 7 "As Different as Daylight and Dark" 121

Chapter 8 "Lord, I Need Your Help Today" 139

Part II If You're Gonna Play in Texas

Chapter 9 Big Dog 161

Chapter 10 "Is There a Team in Dallas?" 182

Chapter 11 A Virtue Out of Weakness 205

Chapter 12 "It Wasn't Dallas. It was Dante's Inferno" 226

Chapter 13 "We're Ready to Contend" 247

Chapter 14 "The Baser Instincts of Men" 268

Chapter 15 Less Than Zero 288

Part III The Devil Lives in Dallas

Chapter 16 "We Need to Reverse This Trend" 307

Chapter 17 The Lord Taketh … 331

Chapter 18 "A Vehicle for Corporate Ego" 354

Chapter 19 … And the Lord Finally Giveth 376

Chapter 20 "A Big Transmitter to God" 398

Chapter 21 The Last Happy Ending 425

Chapter 22 Hollywood Babylon 446

Chapter 23 America's Team-or the Antichrist? 473

Chapter 24 Staring into the Dark 499

Chapter 25 Living on a Prayer 528

Chapter 26 "Assault on Mount Landry" 559

Chapter 27 "You've Taken My Team Away From Me" 588

Epilogue: The Apostle 617

Acknowledgments 633

Notes 637

Index 671

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The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry 2.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
fanquest More than 1 year ago
How can I 'contact' autobiographer Mark Ribowsky? I have several questions 'just for him'?!
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
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's life, as it WAS such a large part of who he was. Well researched, well written, and a nice read – frankly, I admit that I was pleasantly surprised that the book managed to hold my interest for its over 600 pages, but it did. RATING: 4 stars,. DISCLOSURE: This book was provided free of charge by the publisher without obligation.  I'm sure they will appreciate an unbiased posted review, and will be grateful that it turned out to be favorable.  (As far as prompt … well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad ...)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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epm54338 More than 1 year ago
If I added up all the factual errors I've caught in books that I've read in my life, that total would be less than what I  came across while browsing through this joke of a book. The "author" must have been drunk and never bothered to proofread his own copy. It's apparent that the "publisher" doesn't employ the services of fact checkers and the hacks who were asked to provide blurbs for the cover never bother to read the manuscript. I'd be embarrassed to put my name on this garbage.