By Rusty Richards
Moonlight Mesa Associates, 2010
Rodeo superstar Casey Tibbs lives again in Rusty Richards’ authorized biography of the memorable, charismatic cowboy from South Dakota. Richards spent over twenty years meticulously researching, interviewing, and capturing vibrant memories and recollections of the six-time world champion saddle bronc rider.
The book also covers the Roberts’ family, including rodeo greats Ken, Gerald, and E.C., along with Jim Shoulders, Deb Copenhaveer, Carl Olson, Ben Johnson, Gene Pruett, Bill Linderman, and so many more talented rodeo stars. In addition, Richards recounts Casey’s phenomenal success in Hollywood and his friendship with Audie Murphy.
Something a little different for Western Fiction Review, as this isn’t a book of fiction. Being English and living in the UK, I have never really had much knowledge of rodeo’s and the people who worked them other than what I’ve seen on television, so I wondered if this book would hold my interest?
Rusty Richards has put together a very readable book, his way with words really bring Casey Tibbs to life, and the book definitely held my interest, in fact I found it very difficult to put down. There are laugh-out-loud moments, tales of wonder – such as the man Tibbs hired to fly his aeroplane, and sadder moments too; seeing Tibbs become addicted to gambling and drinking for instance. The final hours of Tibbs life are beautiful told and extremely moving.
One thing that comes across very strongly is Casey Tibbs love of practical jokes, and many of them are told here. I was also amazed at how many stars of western movies he worked alongside and became friends with. One of the funniest moments for me was when Tibbs becomes lost and asks for directions, something that happens in the same place sometime later. The old-timers’ comments to him are priceless.
Moonlight Mesa are also to be congratulated on the production of this book, for the inclusion of some terrific black and white photographs, many of which show Casey Tibbs in action, and for the colour choice of the cover; a colour that is very significant to Tibbs.
For anyone with an interest in Casey Tibbs, or rodeo, this is a book you must not miss.