Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Book Review: Rodeo history international

First, an apology - I haven't managed to read anything blog-wise this week, so I'll have lots to catch up on this weekend, I'm sure. Still haven't added an internet connection at the apartment, and cribbing from the neighbor's really weak one is very spotty. Must do something about that soon!

So this week's book caught my eye at work, and I just couldn't resist spending an hour or so with it. What do you get when you combine a rodeo crazy cowboy, WWII, and a bunch of very confused German livestock? Entertainment, evidently.

Third Army Cowboys by Jack Lloyd
Stationed in Germany at the end of WWII, a then nineteen year-old, PFC Jack Lloyd was occupying himself working in a hospital dispensary when he heard that some boys in a Texas unit were throwing a rodeo as a send-off for their major. Unable to get leave, he went AWOL in order to ride. The rodeo's a success, but the going-AWOL, not-so much.

Fortunately, Jack's rodeo experience and the entertainment value of the rodeo saves his butt and Jack ends up tasked with putting on rodeos across Germany as part of the Third Army Special Service.

And so begins an odd tale of a thrown-together bunch of motley bunch of cowboys from across the United States (and one displaced Frenchman) headed by by the young private with little to no experience in wrangling this sort of project.

You sort of have to read between the lines, as Jack has undoubtedly left a lot of details out, but it's still quite a trip. Just imagining the spectacle from the German perspective - not to mention the poor milk cows and oxen that get shanghaid - albeit briefly - into masquerading as rodeo rough stock...

It's around 125 pages, but it stars cowboys from South Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas, and a few other places in between, doing what cowboys mostly do: raising cane and cowboying up. For fans of rodeo and history, it's an interesting read.

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