The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry

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Overview

?An eloquent, honest tribute to a sports genius.? ?Publishers Weekly, Best 100 Books of 2013
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 twenty consecutive winning seasons and two Super ...

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The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry

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Overview

“An eloquent, honest tribute to a sports genius.” —Publishers Weekly, Best 100 Books of 2013
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 twenty consecutive winning seasons and two Super Bowl titles. Now, more than a decade after Landry’s death, acclaimed biographer Mark Ribowsky takes a fresh look at this misunderstood legend, telling us as much about our country’s obsession with football as about Landry himself, the likes of whom we’ll never see again.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Author Mark Ribowsky (Howard Cosell; Don't Look Back) specializes in sports stories and often sees what others have missed. In this case, his subject is Tom Landry, the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach who has been dead for nearly a decade and a half. With added perspective (not to mention dozens of exclusive interviews), Ribowsky offers us our best opportunity yet to see this quiet, complex man as he really was. He shows how as a young man, Landry followed his fallen World War II hero brother into battle, somehow surviving a crash landing himself. He tracks his subject's forty-year football career, focusing on the triumphs of his twenty consecutive winning seasons and his two championships. Perhaps most memorably, he describes how Landry's coaching method forever transformed the game of football.

Booklist
“Fascinating…. Readers looking for a recap of one of football’s greatest innovators and coaches will be enthralled.”
Allen Barra - Dallas Morning News
“[A] huge and hugely entertaining biography…. Extraordinary…. That Ribowsky, an outstanding biographer with books on Al Davis, Satchel Paige and Howard Cosell to his credit, doesn’t idolize Landry across the book’s 640 pages makes his judgment all the keener.”
Publishers Weekly
★ 09/23/2013
rom 1960 to 1988, Tom Landry was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, taking the football team from expansion joke to a big, bad cultural empire now known as “America’s Team.” In Ribowsky’s authoritative biography, Landry appears more stoic king than coach, his ever-present fedora serving as a crown. He ruled with an unrelenting rigidity, whether it was viewing players (including legends) as replaceable parts or sticking with his landmark offensive and defensive systems, even as the game outgrew those once-novel innovations. At the same time, Landry was a devout Christian who lived by a simple code of honor—he essentially agreed to coach at one point on a handshake deal—only to get squeezed out by the growing corporate nature of pro football. Ribowsky’s thorough examination of a surprisingly complicated man offers original reporting, which serves here as merely a complement to this impressively researched work. But in looking back at the legendary Landry’s life (1924–2000), Ribowsky (Howard Cosell) reveals how much the game has changed since the coach’s heyday while providing an eloquent, honest tribute to a football genius. 16 pages of illustrations. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Tom Landry spent 40 years in professional football, most notably 29 years as the original coach of the oft-celebrated Dallas Cowboys. Landry was one of the most innovative and influential coaches in NFL history, essentially inventing his own offensive and defensive systems that spread throughout the league. Beginning as the defensive coach of the Giants in the 1950s, the cool technician from Texas was the polar opposite of that team's volatile offensive coach, Vince Lombardi, who would be his chief rival in the 1960s. Although Ribowsky (Howard Cosell) is gratuitously snarky about Landry's religious and political beliefs at times, he recounts Landry's life honestly, avoiding both distortion and hagiography while portraying a stoic, flawed man of honor. The one failing of the book is that there is little about Landry's family life during the time he was coaching. VERDICT Nonetheless, this is a triumph of extensive research and interviews. It will be welcomed by all football fans.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-28
A prolific sportswriter submits a meaty biography of one of the NFL's legendary coaches. Except for his World War II service and 10 years spent in New York, most notably as a player, then as defensive coach for the Giants, Tom Landry (1924–2000) was all Texas. Born, raised and educated in the Lone Star State, Landry returned in 1960 to coach the expansion Dallas Cowboys for a record 29 years. After a rocky start, the stoic Landry, among the game's most influential innovators, turned the franchise into a consistent winner and a huge source of pride for a football-obsessed state and an up-and-coming city looking to live down the shame of the JFK assassination. Although he was revered by fans and the media until new owner Jerry Jones unceremoniously fired him, Landry's buttoned-up life poses difficulties for any biographer. Ribowsky (Howard Cosell: The Man, the Myth, and the Transformation of American Sports, 2011, etc.) solves most of them by coming at the coach from all angles: thoroughly exploring the Texas connection; interviewing his widow for personal and family stories that open a window on the interior life of the closemouthed coach; examining his complex relationships with some of his greatest stars--Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes--who vainly sought his approval; delineating his role in the Cowboy organization that featured swashbuckling owner Clint Murchison, shrewd president Tex Schramm and super scout Gil Brandt; explaining the complex schemes behind Landry's exciting brand of football; teasing out his tortured handling of troubled players like Hollywood Henderson and Duane Thomas; measuring the family man and devout Christian against the seemingly bloodless coach who appeared to prize his system over people, who turned a blind eye to the decidedly heathen lifestyle of so many of his players. If Ribowsky never quite penetrates to Landry's core, he still provides as complete a picture of "God's Coach" as we're likely to get. A must-read for fans of "America's Team" and, given Landry's impact on the game, for Cowboy haters too.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871408549
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 684
  • Sales rank: 390,267
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Ribowsky is the author of books including Howard Cosell and the New York Times Notable Book Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball as well as The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal and Ain’t Too Proudto Beg: The Troubled Lives and Enduring Soul of the Temptations. He lives in Florida.

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