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Rodeo Family-Book
In this Dec. 8, 2016, photo, a photo of the Wright family sits inside a trophy case at Milford High School. A southern Utah family that has produced several generations of rodeo champions is chronicled in a new book called "The Last Cowboys." (The Spectrum via AP)

'Last Cowboys' book chronicles legendary Utah rodeo family

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A Utah family that has produced several generations of rodeo champions is chronicled in a new book called "The Last Cowboys."

The Wrights family book written by New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter John Branch was released May 15. Branch spent more than three years with the Wrights to put it together, The Spectrum reported .

Rodeo Family-Book
This undated photo shows John Branch's new book "The Last Cowboys." (Ryan Miller/The Spectrum via AP)

"They're like the Mannings of rodeo," Branch said. "As long as the Mannings had five or six more quarterbacks in the NFL. The Mannings wish they were the Wrights of the NFL, probably."

The Wrights, from the southern Utah town of Milford, have produced generation after generation of rodeo champions. But the book isn't just about winning saddle bronc titles. It's about a family's challenge adapting to a changing American West as the world grows smaller.

It's about a parcel of land on Smith Mesa and whether the Wrights can, or even should, remain there. It's about the Old West becoming new.

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"I wanted to be able to highlight the broader picture," Branch said. "The drought, the federal land use, the organization of the West. . Cities and small towns are dying, but some are booming, and that brings its own kind of problems."

Rodeo Family-Book
This Dec. 8, 2016 photo shows a sign welcoming people to Milford and celebrating the success of the Wright family in Milford, Utah. A southern Utah family that has produced several generations of rodeo champions is chronicled in a new book called "The Last Cowboys." (Jordan Allred/The Spectrum via AP)

Branch said he rarely begins to write a story without knowing the end, but he knew "The Last Cowboys" would be an exception.

"Life kind of unspools, and this family has been unspooling for 150 years around here and continues to unspool, to use that metaphor," Branch said. "I think it's OK that the book sort of leaves you a little bit with an 'I wonder what happens next.'"

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