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Western Writers of America Top Picks


J.J. Helms

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Good evenin' gents! Just finished reading Monte Walsh last night. Simply put, I thought it was wonderful and added to my efforts to read the top western fiction/nonfiction works as determined by the Western Writers of America (see link). I started this process a few months back and have really enjoyed reading these works. Out of curiosity, how many of the books have you read?

 

Best Westerns Link

 

So far, I've read:

 

Shane

Lonesome Dove (all but one of the tetralogy to go)

Riders of the Purple Sage

Hondo

Monte Walsh

True Grit

The Searchers

 

The Virginian, Men to Move my Mountains, and Triggernometry are on the shelf. I've read a bit of the first and latter, but not much just yet. So, I've still got a good ways to go and am enjoying the trip!

 

As a side bar...I'll not bore you with the movies...I own many of 'em plus a whole lot more. In fact, three more just came in today thanks to an Amazon gift card my wife gave me for Valentine's Day! :wub:

 

J.J.

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I suspect that I am in common company with over 100 Louis L'Amour, 50 Zane Grey, all of Elmer Kelton, Owen Wister, and Robert Parker read to-date. Add to that many, many non-fiction books, including five books recently of court and newspaper accounts plus interviews of the Earps, Mastersons, Holliday and their many fiends and enemies. None of the movies line up with contmeporary accounts.

Essential reading for the western fan includes these plus:

Life and Times of Tom Horn

Story of Billy Dixon

Teddy Roosevelt's autobiography of his early years

David McCulloch's books on Lewis and Clark and the Mexican Wars

Autobiography of William C Greene (mine owner in New and Old Mex 1870-1908.

I have knocked out 1-2 books per week since 1985 and have only made a dent in what is out there. I look to seeing what others add to this.

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Don't buy their lists, although there's many a good one on there. The big one missing: Elmore Leonard. "Valdez is Coming" is my favorite single Western book, with "Hombre" not far behind.

 

I don't think any writer of Westerns has had more of his novels and stories made into movies than Elmore Leonard. Right now, I can think of the following: The Tall T (with Randolph Scott), Joe Kidd, 3:10 to Yuma (both of 'em), Hombre, Valdez is Coming, Last Stand at Saber River.

 

Why, even the recent series "Justified" is Elmore Leonard's work.

 

Won't even mention his mysteries and the movies based on them.....

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Great additions and thoughts! It's certainly wise to take the WWoA list as merely one of possibly many lists. I do like it as a starting point although I have also read several other books their list fails to mention.

 

One I'm particularly fond of is In the Heart of the Rockies: A Story of Adventure in Colorado by G.A. Henty (written around 1894). I found it to be a wonderful tale with lots of adventure!

 

J.J.

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I have read all of Louis L'Amour (including his poetry) and about 70 Zane Gray. If you've never read Clarence Mulford, DO IT? He created HOPALONG CASSIDY. Great stories. He even tried shooting tricks to see if they could be done before writing them into his stories.

 

Another writer I really enjoy reading is STAN LYNDE. You might remember him as the creator of the cartoon strips RICK O'SHAY and LATIGO. He have 8 novels out and he always leaves you wanting more

 

 

TF

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I rarely go anywhere without a book in hand, and absolutely love reading histories/stories of the old West. I would have to put Larry McMurtry, Loren EStleman and L'Amour at the top of my list. Recently read two Elmer Kelton works (Texas Sunrise)and thoroughly enjoyed them. I am now reading Clarence Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy stories.

 

Cassalong Hopidy

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I'm a Western History guy. My favorite author/historian is Bernard DeVoto.

If you can get ahold of these books they make for good readin:

 

Year of Decision, 1846

Across the Wide Missouri

The Course of Empire

 

Ned

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Elmer Kelton, is by far my favorite western writer. "six bits a day", "good old boys", "smiling country", and "the time it never rained" are classics.

maybe not a western, but, "Gods and Generals" (civil war) is also very good, by Peter Shaara.

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Lots of great ideas worth checking out! I'll also throw in Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons. For some strange reason though, I had a difficult time getting into his arguably more 'noticed' work, Cold Mountain. Guess I need to give it another go!

 

J.J.

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