Kesey misses the mark on this potentially powerful tale of the early days of the Pendleton Round Up, when racial prejudice and exploitation bulled their way into the infant competition. It's further tangled by narration that bounces between 1911 and the mid-1980s with no transition. There's still a helluva story about the Jackson Sundown - George Fletcher - John Spain competition, but this historically-based novel doesn't really tell it.
From Publishers Weekly
Based on a childhood campfire tale, Kesey and Babbs attempt to recreate the Old West in their story of a black cowboy, a Nez Perce Indian and a young white boy who vie for the first world title of broncbuster. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Kesey first heard the story of Oregon's 1911 "Pendleton Round-Up" from his father while sitting around a campfire during his youth. This fictionalized account centers around the battle for the first World Bronco-Busting Championship among popular local black cowboy George Fletcher, Nez Perce Indian Jackson Sundown, and a young, white Tennessean named Jonathan E. Lee Spain. Though the three become good friends, their fierce competition for the title carries the story to a dramatic "last go round" to determine a champion. The novel includes photographs of the actual event and a cast of memorable characters such as Buffalo Bill Cody. Kesey and Babbs's down-home style of narrative takes some getting used to, but Kesey's voice is perfect for the narrator. Recommended for general collections. --Mark Watson, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.