Dead Man's Walk

Dead Man's Walk

4.2 62
by Larry McMurtry
     
 

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Dead Man's Walk is the first, extraordinary book in the epic Lonesome Dove tetralogy, in which Larry McMurtry breathed new life into the vanished American West and created two of the most memorable heroes in contemporary fiction: Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call.

As young Texas Rangers, Gus and Call have much to learn about survival in a land…  See more details below

Overview

Dead Man's Walk is the first, extraordinary book in the epic Lonesome Dove tetralogy, in which Larry McMurtry breathed new life into the vanished American West and created two of the most memorable heroes in contemporary fiction: Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call.

As young Texas Rangers, Gus and Call have much to learn about survival in a land fraught with perils: not only the blazing heat and raging tornadoes, roiling rivers and merciless Indians but also the deadly whims of soldiers. On their first expeditions--led by incompetent officers and accompanied by the robust, dauntless whore known as the Great Western--they will face death at the hands of the cunning Comanche war chief Buffalo Hump and the silent Apache Gomez. They will be astonished by the Mexican army. And Gus will meet the love of his life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, the heroes of Lonesome Dove, return in a rousing if slightly contrived yarn set decades before the events of that Pulitzer Prize-winning novel-and earlier still than the latter-day adventures of Call, detailed in Streets of Laredo. Now hardly more than teenage runaways, the pair, just recruited into the ragtag Rangers of the new Texas Republic, come face-to-face with death on their baptismal patrol as Gus, foolishly wandering away from his guard post, stumbles onto the grotesquely disfigured Comanche chief Buffalo Hump and narrowly escapes with the Indian's lance embedded in his hip. Gus and Call return safely to San Antonio but, lured by myths of silver and gold, the hapless duo sign on to a small army led by a former seafaring pirate intent on liberating Santa Fe from Mexican rule. An unforgettable (and equally unlikely) crew of blackhearted villains, foppish officers and star-crossed heroes and heroines, the sorry little force heads west only to be terrorized by Buffalo Hump, then captured by Mexican militia. With the ruthless Captain Salazar calling the shots, Mexicans and Americans are ordered to march toward El Paso. Along the way, Call is whipped nearly to death for a minor offense, and the group is stalked by a murderous Apache. Forced by Salazar to cross the high desert known as ``dead man's walk,'' Gus, Call and company end up at a leper colony near El Paso, where they find salvation. Suffering from McMurtry's usual coincidences and miraculous escapes, as well as from some stereotypical key characters and too much obvious melodrama, this falls short of both Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo. Still, it's bracing entertainment in its own right, with McMurtry flashing his storytelling skills as he recreates the salad days of two flawed but all-American heroes adrift in the Old West. 500,000 first printing. (Sept.)
Library Journal
McMurtry's recent novels (The Late Child, LJ 5/15/95 and Pretty Boy Floyd, LJ 9/1/94) have been disappointing, but in this prequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove (LJ 7/85), he shows himself to be in top form again. During the years of the Texas Republic, a group of Rangers travel across Texas on several misbegotten missions. Two of the youngest Rangers, Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, are featured in Lonesome Dove. Their coming of age can be charted by the rivers they crossthe Brazos, the Trinity, the Big Wichitaand the hardships they endure. Death is a constant companion, coming quickly at the hand of hostile Natives, fellow rangers, and nature itself. Their last expedition, to take Santa Fe from the Mexicans, ends disastrously with a heartstopping game of chance determining who will live and who will die. From opening line to last page, this marvelous novelpart soap opera, part slapstick, part tragedyis impossible to put down. Very highly recommended for all popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/95.]Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Mary Frances Wilkens
Fans of "Lonesome Dove" will flock to read McMurtry's latest novel, a prequel to that best-seller, which was made into a popular television miniseries. We meet Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae when they're novice Texas Rangers not yet 20 years old. They are part of a pack of Rangers bound for new frontiers in the Wild West. Traveling with the team is Mathilda, a heavyset whore who provides both comfort and wisdom. When the group gets word that the town of Santa Fe--full of gold and silver and prosperity--is primed to be captured, they head out for a long, dangerous, and ill-fated journey. They are terrorized along the way by the fearsome Comanche chief Buffalo Hump, who is known for viciously torturing those he captures. Their biggest challenge, though, is nature itself, as they must cross Jornada del Muerto, or Dead Man's Walk. Although foolish, filthy, and ornery, these men are endearing, with a simple but insightful worldview. McMurtry again paints a story full of dreariness and despair with colorful characters, bringing out the beauty rather than the bleakness of life.
John Milius
In DEAD MAN'S WALK, McMurtry uses a simple, wry, immensely accessible storyteller's voice to ponder the same questions that Melville and Conrad did. This is a great book…Larry McMurtry, at his best here, is one of the finest American novelists ever. We are lucky he's around.
Los Angeles Times
Michael Berry
DEAD MAN'S WALK succeeds marvelously…resurrecting two brilliantly conceived characters and delivering a rousing tale of the Wild West.
San Francisco Chronicle
From the Publisher
"In Dead Man's Walk, McMurtry uses a simple, wry, immensely accessible storyteller's voice to ponder the same questions that Melville and Conrad did. This is a great book. . . . Larry McMurtry, at his best here, is one of the finest American novelists, ever. We are lucky he's around."—John Milius, Los Angeles Times

"McMurtry remains a good storyteller, and he remains a master of dialogue, doing a sort of frontier version of Oscar Wilde."—Washington Post Book World

"Dead Man's Walk. . . succeeds marvelously . . . resurrecting two brilliantly conceived characters and delivering a rousing tale of the Wild West."—Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

"Gee-haw! Larry McMurtry is back in the yarn-slinging business—with a vengeance. . . . Readers will gobble up Dead Man's Walk—a wild and wooly read—from cover to cover."—Denver Post

"Dead Man's Walk is a very good read . . . [It] will keep you reading [and] make you miss meals." —Seattle Times

"McMurtry does great characters. Call and McCrae are real, lifelike, believable, and lovable. . . . McMurtry's stories are brimming with passion and page-turning excitement. . . It's good, good stuff."—Kansas City Star

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451606553
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/01/2010
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
32,988
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"In Dead Man's Walk, McMurtry uses a simple, wry, immensely accessible storyteller's voice to ponder the same questions that Melville and Conrad did. This is a great book. . . . Larry McMurtry, at his best here, is one of the finest American novelists, ever. We are lucky he's around."—John Milius, Los Angeles Times

"McMurtry remains a good storyteller, and he remains a master of dialogue, doing a sort of frontier version of Oscar Wilde."—Washington Post Book World

"Dead Man's Walk. . . succeeds marvelously . . . resurrecting two brilliantly conceived characters and delivering a rousing tale of the Wild West."—Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

"Gee-haw! Larry McMurtry is back in the yarn-slinging business—with a vengeance. . . . Readers will gobble up Dead Man's Walk—a wild and wooly read—from cover to cover."—Denver Post

"Dead Man's Walk is a very good read . . . [It] will keep you reading [and] make you miss meals." —Seattle Times

"McMurtry does great characters. Call and McCrae are real, lifelike, believable, and lovable. . . . McMurtry's stories are brimming with passion and page-turning excitement. . . It's good, good stuff."—Kansas City Star

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Meet the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Archer City, Texas
Date of Birth:
June 3, 1936
Place of Birth:
Wichita Falls, Texas
Education:
B.A., North Texas State University, 1958; M.A., Rice University, 1960. Also studied at Stanford University.

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Dead Man's Walk 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a harsh tale of the earliest partnership between Woodrow Call and Gus MaCrae, the marvelously heroic anti-heroes of LONESOME DOVE. In this tale the two, as young men, stumble into the early Texas Rangers, drawn by the naive love of adventure which rangering promises the two youths. But they soon find that they and the rangers they lucklessly attach themselves to are no match for the harsh country they confront. The Commanches and the Apaches are harder and smarter in the ways of the wilds and the Mexicans are more numerous and better prepared. The Texans are bunglers, led by charlatans and self-interested adventurers. Worst of all, none of them, from the lowliest ranger, to the officers, to the whores who trail along behind them, know what they are letting themselves in for. It is a hellish passage which they undertake, rife with the sudden violence and grotesqueries which characterize McMurtry's vision of the west. There is the oversized whore, Mattie, who alternately mothers and fornicates with the young rangers she finds around her; the simpering easterner who has set himself up as an officer in the rangers; the pirate turned soldier of fortune who leads his troop of adventurers into country he neither understands nor is prepared to encounter; the sudden lightning storms and tornadoes; the misshapen Commanche war-chief who hunts the white men like buffalo; the deadly Apache who culls the white herd in the night through a long and arduous desert death march; the overly proud Mexican Captain Salazar whose life, in the end, depends on the goodwill of his remaining captives; the old mountain man and the scout who travels with him; the brain damaged quartermaster whose luck it is to live while other, more complete men, must die. All of these rush blindly toward that strange fate which awaits them in the end and which will overwhelm those who will survive, in a moment of surrealistic beauty and dread which somehow wipes away the harshness and suffering which have gone before. In the end, MacCrae, the carefree instinctive man of action, and Call, the careful and thoughtful planner, are forced to see that they, as they have been, callow and inexperienced youths, are no match for the country and the people they have found in it. But, unlike most of their comrades, they miraculously survive their trek. And are changed and enlarged by it. Country bumpkins and veritable greenhorns at the outset, they are fast on the way to becoming the tough rangers we will meet once more, in the books which tell of their subsequent adventures, by the end of this tale. This one does not quite rise to the resonant strains of its precursor LONESOME DOVE, but it is a fitting prequel. We get to see how the country and the experiences of a harsh youth began to form the two men whose tale this ultimately is. And if there is not much plot here, there is a vividness in the description and the dialogue that make you feel like you are there with these men. True, the tale is so grotesque as to seem utterly unreal at times. But McMurtry's writing is sharp and evocative and fresh so that, despite a certain predictability in the events, you want to stay with the characters, to experience this harsh and nightmarish world along with them. Not up to LONESOME DOVE. But that was a hard act to follow.
srgwriter More than 1 year ago
Book one of a four book western masterpiece that does not pander to cliche. I'm glad I read the series in chronological order. McMurtry merges real history and his story into one ineresting and real read. This series of books Dead Man's Walk, Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove, and Streets of Loredo has become the standard I measure all westerns against.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry is an awesome history lesson on the early ages of the United States. Anyone that enjoys learning about the past should consider deeply about reading this book. I could not put it down. The story line and the amount of detail used will really capture any reader who has interest in Western's. This book should be read because by everyone because it will teach the value of hard work and show everyone what a near death experience is like. I know that now I appreciate everything in life, even if it wouldn't normally be wanted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
SugarSW More than 1 year ago
I never thought I would enjoy this type of book but after visiting Wyoming and going through museums, I decided to read. Pretty graphic but overall a good book. I like how the characters were developed and have now moved on to the Commanche Moon. Gus and Call are very luck but just the endurance is amazing.
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BDCowan More than 1 year ago
This book takes you back to the beginning of how Gus and Call became Texas Rangers. It's tough to put this book down and it reads quickly and leaves you wanting more, so I jumped right in to Comanche Moon!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've ever read. I am a huge western fan and this book had it all. The characters were great and plot never dulled. There was always something exciting happening. This is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, a total must read.
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Golindaguy More than 1 year ago
The novel starts out fast with a 200-lb. whore slinging a snapping turtle and largely keeps the action going throughout. I found it an enjoyable read, particularly since I am such a fan of Lonesome Dove. Having said that, I felt like Gus's character tended toward the one-dimensional with his fixation on fun, most particularly whores. Of course, he had much the same interests in Lonesome Dove, but at times with Comanche Moon, I felt like his character was a caricature of his Pulitzer Prize-winning double.
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