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Hondo: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1983

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Editorial Reviews


"L'Amour is popular for all the right reasons. His books embody heroic virtues that seem to matter now more than ever...L'Amour falls into the grand tradition of Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson."—Wall Street Journal

"[Louis L'Amour] made the modern Western a national pastime."—Smithsonian Magazine

From the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Two men. One woman. A land that demanded courage--or death...

He was a man etched by the desert's howling winds, a big, broad-shouldered man who knew the ways of the Apache and ways of staying alive. She was a woman raising a young son on her own on a remote Arizona ranch. And between Hondo Lane and Angie Lowe was the warrior Vittoro, whose people were preparing to rise against the white men. Now the pioneer woman, the gunman, and the Apache warrior are caught in a drama of love, war, and honor.  

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (April 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553280902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553280906
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"I think of myself in the oral tradition--as a troubadour, a village tale-teller, the man in the shadows of a campfire. That's the way I'd like to be remembered--as a storyteller. A good storyteller."

It is doubtful that any author could be as at home in the world re-created in his novels as Louis Dearborn L'Amour. Not only could he physically fill the boots of the rugged characters he wrote about, but he literally "walked the land my characters walk." His personal experiences as well as his lifelong devotion to historical research combined to give Mr. L'Amour the unique knowledge and understanding of people, events, and the challenge of the American frontier that became the hallmarks of his popularity.

Of French-Irish descent, Mr. L'Amour could trace his own in North America back to the early 1600s and follow their steady progression westward, "always on the frontier." As a boy growing up in Jamestown, North Dakota, he absorbed all he could about his family's frontier heritage, including the story of his great-grandfather who was scalped by Sioux warriors.

Spurred by an eager curiosity and desire to broaden his horizons, Mr. L'Amour left home at the age of fifteen and enjoyed a wide variety of jobs, including seaman, lumberjack, elephant handler, skinner of dead cattle, and miner, and was an officer in the transportation corps during World War II. During his "yondering" days he also circled the world on a freighter, sailed a dhow on the Red Sea, was shipwrecked in the West Indies and stranded in the Mojave Desert. He won fifty-one of fifty-nine fights as a professional boxer and worked as a journalist and lecturer. He was a voracious reader and collector of rare books. His personal library contained 17,000 volumes.

Mr. L'Amour "wanted to write almost from the time I could talk." After developing a widespread following for his many frontiers and adventure stories written for fiction magazines, Mr. L'Amour published his first full length novel, Hondo, in the United States in 1953. Every one of his more than 120 books is in print; there are more than 300 million copies of his books in print worldwide, making him one of the bestselling authors in modern literary history. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and more than forty-five of his novels and stories have been made into feature films and television movies.

The recipient of many great honor and awards, in 1983 Mr. L'Amour became the first novelist to ever to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress in honor of his life's work. In 1984 he was also awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan.

Louis L'Amour died on June 10, 1988. His wife, Kathy, and their two children, Beau and Angelique, carry the L'Amour publishing tradition forward with new books written by the author during his lifetime to be published by Bantam.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on December 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've really got a thing for these Louis L'amour books at the moment. They hardly take a moment to read, but they are well-crafted and excellent reads. Hondo seems to be the ultimate Western man - he has lived at least part of his life with Apache, is a scout for the Army, and comes up against the Apache both as friend and foe.

Hondo comes across a farm run by a woman and her son, she lies to him and tells her that her husband is away in the hills rounding cattle - Hondo knows that isn't true as there are no tracks leaving the place. He tries to convince her to come with him to the safety of the fort but she refuses. She has always been friends with the Apache and wants to remain on the property even though her husband has gone and is probably dead.

Returning to the fort Hondo realises that things are bad and the woman and boy out there alone will probably die so he returns against orders, but not without the tacit consent of the fort's commander.

He is tracked from the fort by two men intent on killing him - one of them is Ed Lowe, the woman's husband. Unfortunately for them group of Apache track them to the springs and the two men die trying to ambush Hondo - Hondo manages to kill two of the indians along with Ed Lowe. HOwever one indian has escaped to raise the alarm - and now Hondo is in danger, tracked by one of the vicious roaming Apache bands.

This is very much the story of a man who knows his own code of justice and righteousness and is prepared to live and die by that code. His dog, Sam, is like him. A loner, but one who is loyal and trustworthy.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By James Drury on December 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hello, folks, I'm James Drury. I used to play the Virginian on television. I say this only to add a little authority to this review. If you haven't read Louis L'Amour, and particularly this book, you ought to build up the fire, sit down on your couch, and kick back. You are in for a treat. John Wayne brought Hondo to life, but he couldn't have done it without this book to build from. Wayne said this was his favorite Western novel, and in the world of Westerns we all trust the Duke! Make sure you read this book if you get the chance, and if you haven't read L'Amour and you take a liking to him you might also want to try Elmore Leonard, Elmer Kelton, Mike Blakely or Kirby Jonas.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on December 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The best Western novel I have ever read. -John Wayne
Hey look, I'm not about to argue with the Duke. Louis L'Amour is probably the best-selling Western writer of all time and Hondo his first big, and perhaps his best, novel. It is reminiscent of Shane (see Orrin's review) and Riders of the Purple Sage (see Orrin's review), but with Apaches on the warpath taking the place of hostile cattle ranchers or intolerant Mormons. Hondo Lane is the gun fighter, Army dispatch rider, hero who, along with his feral but loyal dog Sam, meets Angie Lowe and her young son Johnny who are homesteading in Apache territory in late 1800's Arizona. Angie has been abandoned by her low down snake of a husband, but refuses to leave her land. Hondo must ride back to the Fort to warn the Cavalry that the Apache chief Vittoro is on the move, but then returns to help defend woman and child.
If the story does not quite reach the lofty literary heights of Shane--perhaps because the focus is so much on what Hondo needs from Angie and Johnny, as opposed to the way in which Shane was the object of the Starrett family's affection--it is still quite enjoyable. Three elements that really stand out and offer a contrast to the easy caricature of the genre are the respectful portrayal of the Apaches, the centrality of the romance angle to the story and the blithe depiction of the difficulty and brutality of frontier life. Even in so formulaic a tale as this one, the American Western demonstrates a level of maturity and nuance that critics seem bent on denying.
With the possible exception of the romance novel, there is perhaps no other genre of fiction which the critics and academia take less seriously than the Western.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve on March 15, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The events of this very solid and compelling story are clearly based on, or at least loosely inspired by, real events in Arizona in 1861. There are many parallels with the Boscom affair and the kidnapping of Mickey Free, events that led to the Apache Wars and the campaigns of Cochise. It's L'Amour's comprehensive knowledge of the history and landscape of Arizona that helps to make this book special. The writing is consistently good, occasionally sublime; "...the tips of the cottonwoods turned gold, like the sun-tipped lances of a moving army." L'Amour is particularly good with dialogue, a skill which is sadly lacking among most Western writers, making Zane Grey for example, almost unreadable. The only thing preventing "Hondo" from being great literature is the paper-thin characterization. Hondo Lane is an idealized, 'Hollywooden' hero and the villains lack any redeeming features that would make them credible. The depiction of the Apache is sympathetic, even to the extent that they too are often idealized ("No Apache ever hit his child"). The author's attempts to describe the developing feelings of the hero and heroine for each other are particularly gauche. L'Amour, it seems, cannot write l'amour. But, so what? If we want profound insights into human nature, we read Jane Austen. If we want the romance and drama of the Old West, we read Louis L'Amour.
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