Bestselling winner of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize, Lonesome Dove is an American classic. First published in 1985, Larry McMurtry's epic novel combined flawless writing with a storyline and setting that gripped the popular imagination, and ultimately resulted in a series of four novels and an Emmy-winning television miniseries. Now, with an introduction by the author, Lonesome Dove is reprinted in an S&S Classic Edition.
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, the author of Terms of Endearment, is his long-awaited masterpiece, the major novel at last of the American West as it really was.
A love story, an adventure, an American epic, Lonesome Dove embraces all the West -- legend and fact, heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settiers -- in a novel that recreates the central American experience, the most enduring of our national myths.
Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana -- and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream -- the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life.
Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding (or wanting to understand) each other's deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weaknesses, and not many of his own. He is obsessed with the dream of creating his own empire, and with the need to conceal a secret sorrow of his own. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough, redoubtable fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else.
Call's dream not only drags Gus along in its wake, but draws in a vast cast of characters:
-- Lorena, the whore with the proverbial heart of gold, whom Gus (and almost everyone else) loves, and who survives one of the most terrifying experiences any woman could have...
-- Elmira, the restless, reluctant wife of a small-time Arkansas sheriff, who runs away from the security of marriage to become part of the great Western adventure...
-- Blue Duck, the sinister Indian renegade, one of the most frightening villains in American fiction, whose steely capacity for cruelty affects the lives of everyone in the book...
-- Newt, the young cowboy for whom the long and dangerous journey from Texas to Montana is in fact a search for his own identity...
-- Jake, the dashing, womanizing exRanger, a comrade-in-arms of Gus and Call, whose weakness leads him to an unexpected fate...
-- July Johnson, husband of Elmira, whose love for her draws him out of his secure life into the wilderness, and turns him into a kind of hero...
Lonesome Dove sweeps from the Rio Grande (where Gus and Call acquire the cattle for their long drive by raiding the Mexicans) to the Montana highlands (where they find themselves besieged by the last, defiant remnants of an older West).
It is an epic of love, heroism, loyalty, honor, and betrayal -- faultlessly written, unfailingly dramatic. Lonesome Dove is the novel about the West that American literature -- and the American reader -- has long been waiting for.
Larry McMurtry, in books like The Last Picture Show, has depicted the modern degeneration of the myth of the American West. The subject of Lonesome Dove, cowboys herding cattle on a great trail-drive, seems like the very stuff of that cliched myth, but McMurtry bravely tackles the task of creating meaningful literature out of it. At first the novel seems the kind of anti-mythic, anti-heroic story one might expect: the main protagonists are a drunken and inarticulate pair of former Texas Rangers turned horse rustlers. Yet when the trail begins, the story picks up an energy and a drive that makes heroes of these men. Their mission may be historically insignificant, or pointless--McMurtry is smart enough to address both possibilities--but there is an undoubted valor in their lives. The result is a historically aware, intelligent, romantic novel of the mythic west that won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
New York Times Book Review, Nicholas Lemann
Weaves a dense web of subplots involving secondary characters and out-of-the-way places, with the idea of using the form of a long old-fashioned realistic novel to create an accurate picture of life on the American frontier. . . . The Great Cowboy Novel.
Gary W. Gallagher author of Lee and His Generals in War and Memory Robert Knox Sneden bequeathed a rich store in pictorial and narrative material to students of the Civil War. His drawings and paintings depict many places for which we have no other pictorial representations. This highly unusual account, which is enhanced by the editors' excellent work, quickly should take its place among the invaluable published primary sources on the conflict.