Groneberg, Tom 1966-

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GRONEBERG, Tom 1966-


Born 1966, in Chicago, IL; married: wife's name Jennifer; children: three sons. Education: University of Illinois—Urbana/Champaign, B.A.; attended University of Montana.


Home—MT. E-mail[email protected].


Author. Has worked as a tour guide and cattle rancher.


Honor Award, Montana Book Award, for The Secret Life of Cowboys.



The Secret Life of Cowboys, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.

One Good Horse, Scribner (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Men's Journal, Out, Sports Afield, and Montana Quarterly; also correspondent for Big Sky Journal.


Author Tom Groneberg lived in Chicago, Illinois, for many years before deciding to move west. He worked as a trail guide at a ranch in Colorado and then moved on to Montana. After beginning postgraduate work at the University of Montana, he decided to leave school to work on a cattle ranch. Groneberg and his wife, Jennifer, soon owned their own ranch which they managed for four years until their first son was born. Groneberg's first memoir, The Secret Life of Cowboys, is an account of his journey and subsequent acclimation to the West. He describes life on a ranch from a suburbanite's perspective. Groneberg details his experiences attending rodeo school, riding in an amateur rodeo, and running his own ranch, a task which proved to be extremely difficult. Groneberg soon found himself taking antidepressants and seeking psychiatric help. However, he achieved the perfect balance after giving up his ranch to work as a writer and part-time cowboy.

Many reviewers praised The Secret Life of Cowboys. Joshua Rich, writing in Entertainment Weekly, pointed out Groneberg's "sharp, immediate tone" and "poignant, sober honesty." Booklist reviewer Keir Graff agreed, stating, "Readers will surely enjoy this love letter to the West," while Library Journal contributor Devin Zimmerman observed Groneberg's "detailed, often poetic prose," and remarked that the author "moves his story along at a good canter." Likewise, a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded, "Groneberg succeeds as cowboy and poet, tossing a saddle on his soul and riding into the shadows."

In 2006 Groneberg published a second memoir, One Good Horse. In the book, Groneberg intertwines the story of nineteenth-century cowboy legend Teddy Blue Albott with Groneberg's modern experience. When Groneberg's wife gave premature birth to twin sons, the couple learned that one of the boys, Avery, had Down syndrome. After a difficult first year with Avery, Groneberg decided to fulfill his dream of buying and training a colt. The horse, named Blue, was easy to break, and Groneberg found new inspiration in watching his disabled son endure difficult physical therapy and other challenges. One Good Horse elicited mixed reviews. Patsy E. Gray, reviewing the book in the Library Journal, felt that "the connection among the various themes in the book is, alas, tenuous." A Kirkus Reviews critic felt similarly, remarking, "For a memoir ostensibly about finding one good colt, the book contains surprisingly little about Blue or about the art of breaking horses," but also called the book "heart-felt." On the other hand, a Publishers Weekly contributor pointed out that the memoir contains "self-discovery encompassing hope, struggle, loss and redemption," and further commented that Groneberg "succeeds in exploring a deep sense of personal understanding and revelation."

In an interview with Allen M. Jones posted on the New West Web site, Groneberg commented: "Writing One Good Horse taught me that it's a small world, and that there are stories everywhere, and these stories all seem to connect somehow, if you look deep enough." He added: "I guess, training the horse and having Avery come into my life really did teach me that the only sure way to fail in this life is to give up, to stop trying."



Groneberg, Tom, The Secret Life of Cowboys, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.

Groneberg, Tom, One Good Horse, Scribner (New York, NY), 2006.


Booklist, June 1, 2003, Keir Graff, review of The Secret Life of Cowboys, p. 1716.

Entertainment Weekly, June 27, 2003, Joshua Rich, review of The Secret Life of Cowboys, p. 142.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of One Good Horse, p. 1265.

Library Journal, May 15, 2003, Devin Zimmerman, review of The Secret Life of Cowboys, p. 97; December 1, 2005, Patsy E. Gray, review of One Good Horse, p. 154.

Publishers Weekly, June 2, 2003, review of The Secret Life of Cowboys, p. 44; November 21, 2005, review of One Good Horse, p. 38.


New West, (June 23, 2006), Allen M. Jones, "Six Questions for Author Tom Groneberg," author interview.

Tom Groneberg Home Page, (June 23, 2006).*