The Last Cowboy
A few weeks ago I got a phone call from one of the guys who runs this site [ @FanVsFan ] and he asked me if I would mind doing a book review. He mentioned that the primary reason he asked me, was that he knew I was a Cowboys fan. The book, he went on to say, is about the Cowboys. Without hesitation, I agreed. I love reading, and well it wouldn't be the first book, I would read about "America's Team". I've read more than a few, but I surely would welcome reading one more.
Before I continue, let me digress for a moment. I want to share the following description of what a book review is. You see I have never done a 'book review' before. I've done literature papers, and research papers but never a 'book review' on one specific book. So I did a quick search to see what it should include. I found this description on line. I thought it was pretty clear and I used it as a guide. I am sure there are other definitions out there, but I liked this one. It seemed simple enough.
A book review is a description, critical analysis, and an evaluation on the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, not a retelling. It should focus on the book's purpose, content, and authority. A critical book review is not a book report or a summary. It is a reaction paper in with strengths and weaknesses of the material analyzed. It should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, evaluates how well (in the opinion of the reviewer) the author has succeeded, and presents evidence to support this evaluation. [ Los Angeles Valley Library ]
So without retelling the book, I am to share with you a critical analysis, and a description. Of course, one would think that I must read the book first, right? Well, okay I have a confession to make. I have not finished reading the book yet, and I don't expect that I will do so anytime soon. This, however, will not preclude me from providing a recommendation to read the book. The reason, for one, is I am already hooked. I want to finish it. I not only want to finish it, I was to savor reading it.
I knew from the minute I started reading it, that this was not going to be one of those books I would complete within one sitting. For one thing, I am going to need a dictionary by my side, so that I am able to look up the many words I must define. Make no mistake, this book is for the intelligent fan, and if you do not have an extensive vocabulary, you might after you finish reading. Not to mention there are over six hundred pages. Of course, I could skim through it. The reality is, I don't want to. I know I would miss something significant, and I have too much respect for Tom Landry, to skimp when it comes to reading about his life.
Why is that? I didn't know him. Why do I respect him so much? Well, I don't know but I think it's because he seemed to be so 'drama free' and he just seemed to get the job done, without a whole lot of attention to himself. He just seemed to signify 'class' and I think that's what I miss about "America's Team." This is not meant to sound as though I am bashing, but they just seem to be so much more focused on commercialism than winning these days. It's like if they are making money, then they think their fans are happy. Yet, they seem to have forgotten that their fans want to have something to stand for. Even if the team was no longer winning when Tom Landry was fired, why would his memory not be honored in a way that would allow his wife to have a seat, compliments of the team?
You know the cliche that you should not judge a book by it's cover? Okay, well scratch that in this case. The cover is brilliant. It shows a picture of Tom Landry in his "trademark fedora" and the title, "The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry" is written in a very simple font. The simplicity and the stoicism of the cover will remind those who remember "God's Coach" of how much they likely miss back then.
What the author, Mark Ribowsky, has done is capture the essence of his book with a brilliant cover. It's intelligent. It's as though if you put the book down, and fail to finish it, the problem is not with his writing, or the content, but the reader's inability to show a commitment to excellence. It will be on me, if I do not finish this book, not on the author. This much, I already know.
So far, I've learned that Mr. Ribowsky has already written about other remarkable men. His work includes books about Satchel Paige and also Howard Cosell. He mentions his qualifications for writing the biography early on. He seemed to state a case for his objectivity and yet, there seems to be a hint of support for the man. He seems to be sympathetic when he describes how Tom Landry's wife shares how she has never been to a game at the new Cowboys Stadium, now AT&T Stadium, and how the reason is because she doesn't have a seat. No seat? Maybe that was my sympathy, I'm not sure, or both.
The timing of this book could not be better. Last night I watched the Cowboys fall to the Saints and I watched the tweets by many a member of #CowboysNation. Cowboys fans seem frustrated. They are grasping for anything to bring them back to the glory days, when they believed in their team. Reading this book, might provide some solace and hint of something, anything to remind them of Super Bowl Champions of yesterday.
I miss him. I didn't even know him. To me, he just seemed to be a man of stature, a man of class, and a man who seemed to have dignity, both on and off the field. Most of all, I just miss seeing him on the sidelines. As of this writing, many of the fans who root for the Cowboys are tweeting asking, "Does anyone within the Dallas Cowboys organization want to win anymore?"