Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Rooster" by Brett Cogburn

This book's subtitle is The Life and Times of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man who Inspired "True Grit," and as such, I'm afraid I found it disappointing.  While Brett Cogburn does show that Charles Portis clearly did a lot of research into the history of Arkansas and the people, names, and places therein, I was never convinced that Brett Cogburn's ancestor Franklin "Rooster" Cogburn in any way directly inspired the one-eyed U.S. Marshal of True Grit fame.  Franklin Cogburn was never a Marshal, had two good eyes, was only rarely called "Rooster," and never lived to be an old, fat man.  What he did do was serve a prison sentence for moonshining and conspiring to kill a Marshal, then raise a family, turn preacher, and die of an illness at 45.

So as the story of a man who inspired Charles Portis' novel, this did not convince me.

However, as the well-researched, loving, and detailed history of a backwoods patch of Arkansas where moonshiners held enough sway to keep the Revenuers at bay for a long time, it's very interesting.  Rambling, but interesting.  I enjoyed reading it, I didn't feel like it was wasting my time, and I now have a firmer grasp of the history of this country's midsection in the 19th century.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for language, alcohol use, and violence.


  1. Huh. That is disappointing. :( But I'm still gonna read it, even if only because I think the cover's cool. Plus I happen to find moonshining interesting. ;-P


    1. Like I said, I enjoyed it. Crazy fact about me: I've had moonshine.

    2. You WHAT??!?! *goes into a corner and sulks jealously*

    3. Um, yes. When I was living in North Carolina, someone offered my parents that if we wanted to try some real, honest-to-goodness white lightning, they could get us a little glass jar of the safe kind that was not made using an old carburetor (you gotta avoid that kind, cuz it can make you go blind). It was clear, looked just like water or vodka, and came in a little jam jar. We each had a single spoonful, just so we'd know what it was like, and wow! Felt like I'd swallowed acid. Kind of tasted like it too. Not something you drink for fun!


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