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Publisher's Summary

From James McManus, author of the best-selling Positively Fifth Street, comes the definitive story of the game that, more than any other, reflects who we are and how we operate. Cowboys Full is the story of poker, from its roots in China, the Middle East, and Europe to its ascent as a global - but especially an American - phenomenon. It describes how early Americans took a French parlor game and, with a few extra cards and an entrepreneurial spirit, turned it into a national craze by the time of the Civil War.

From the kitchen-table games of ordinary citizens to its influence on generals and diplomats, poker has gone hand in hand with our national experience. Presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama have deployed poker and its strategies to explain policy, to relax with friends, to negotiate treaties and crises, and as a political networking tool. The ways we all do battle and business are echoed by poker tactics: cheating and thwarting cheaters, leveraging uncertainty, bluffing and sussing out bluffers, managing risk and reward.

Cowboys Full shows how what was once accurately called the cheater's game has become a mostly honest contest of cunning, mathematical precision, and luck. It explains how poker, formerly dominated by cardsharps, is now the most popular card game in Europe, East Asia, Australia, South America, and cyberspace, as well as on television. It combines colorful history with firsthand experience from today's professional tour. And it examines poker's remarkable hold on American culture, from paintings by Frederic Remington to countless poker novels, movies, and plays.

Braiding the thrill of individual hands with new ways of seeing poker's relevance to our military, diplomatic, business, and personal affairs, Cowboys Full is sure to become the classic account of America's favorite pastime.

©2009 James McManus (P)2009 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Although positioning it alongside Mom and apple pie may be a stretch, Cowboys Full nevertheless presents a compelling case that the essence of America is best understood through a few hands of its favorite card game." (Amazon.com review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Big disappointment

I read Positively Fifth Street (a great read) and was very disappointed by this tedious exposition. The author didn't give the narrator much to work with and the reader returned the favor. This is a very dry read. I like Poker but if this was my introduction to it, I'd try something else. Long lists of data, names, countries from which players come. Just tiresome filler that an editor should have deleted. Very disappointing from an author who has demonstrated the ability to do far better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

More like a pair of deuces

What's interesting about poker? How about hands that play out in surprising ways, big personalities, shady characters, heartwarming generosity just when you least expect it, and the combination of camaraderie and cutthroat competition in poker rooms. Sadly, this book delivers too much incidental material about presidents who happened to play poker (without the animating effects of accounts of how the presidents played) and too little of the heart and soul of the game. A moderately interesting listen.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A good history of poker, but insulting to Republicans.

Overall a good history of Poker. I thought it was a bit disorganized as it jumped time periods. I believe he ran out of material and devoted an unusual amount of time to the Andy Beal story.

For the entire book, many parts were interesting.

McManus is obviously a radical left winger and had to put in his slaps at the right. Instead of buying a poker history book I got a left wing poker history book, which doesn't make sense.

The reader had no idea how to pronounce poker player's names.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too much detail!

Not for me. Too much detail. The reader was okay, I didn't like the "book."

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 12-14-09

Poker for Players and Nonplayers Alike

McManus has provided a great book about poker in Cowboys Full. I don't play poker, but purchased this Audible gem to inform myself and McManus did just that. There is a history of the game here, how it became the modern game(s) that it is, and how the professional poker tours began and work. The poker player, poker novice, and poker ignorant will all come away with insight and perspective on this historical game. This is well written and well read.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful