Stay with me here. I'm serious. I think Lonesome Dove can standcomparison to Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Of course, I've only read Tolstoy in translation, so chances are I've missed alot, but there is no question that McMurtry creates something here very close to that impossible dream: The Great American Novel. I dont know that any other American writer has ever suceeded on this scale, which is why I go to Tolstoy.
McMurtry uses the Western as a starting point, but there is a little of everything here. Surely there has never been another American Western with so many varied characters, both men and and women. McMurtry juggles many different points of view, but manages to give each of his characters a unique voice. Most remarkable of all, I think, are the women in the book, who manage to escape the usual stereotypes of madonna or whore, even though many of them are, quite literally, prostitutes.
Lonesome Dove is written in a deceptively simple, unpretentious style. I've just finished reading it for the second time. Despite its length it is really a fast read, since it is one of those books that demands to be taken with you where ever you go until you are done.