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North to the Rails: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1982

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
Book 4 of 5 in the Chantry Series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Tom Chantry wore no gun and wished no man harm. French Williams was a ruthless cattleman more than willing to use his weapon. But Tom needed Williams to help him drive a herd north to Dodge. Setting off together on a trail alive with danger, soft-spoken Chantry and hard-bitten Williams faced storms, treachery, and Indian attacks. Now the man some call a coward and the man many call a killer have no choice but to trust each other with their lives--for both have enemies and both are pursued by a violence from the past.

From the Back Cover


Tom Chantry vowed he would live his life without ever carrying a gun. But when he drives a herd of cattle north of Dodge, he discovers that life is treacherous for an unarmed man -- especially for one who's been branded a coward. On the drive, Chantry encounters some of the land's most dangerous characters -- from notorious gunman French Williams and the murderous Talrim brothers, to a threatening tribe of Kiowa and an enigmatic femme fatale. As the drive twists Chantry's past and present together into a tangle of guilt, redemption, and buried family history, the line between friends and enemies grows faint -- and Chantry must sort out the people he can trust from those who want to do him harm....


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (December 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553280864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553280869
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 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 (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,707 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tom Chantry came from the East to the West to buy cattle then bring them to the railroads at Dodge. But when he backs down from a shoot-out with a drunk named Dutch Akins, everyone takes him for a coward and a man who doesn't keep his word. Tom can't find anyone now to buy cattle from or even help move them to the railroads. Tom must learn that he is now in the untamed land of the west where there is no law but only a man's courage and his gun.
Then Tom shocks everyone with how much nerve he has. He makes a deal with French Williams, a well-known man who everyone accuses of stealing cattle though there is no proof. He is said to be able to swindle anyone out of a cow deal. Tom says to Williams that if French Williams will supply the men to help take the herd to the rails, Chantry will give him some shares of the profit. Then Tom makes the deal more interesting. He says that if he himself can't keep up with the outfit and doesn't make it to Dodge City, French Williams will get all of the profit. Williams agrees to it.
Now Tom must be sure to keep up with the herd. But everyone forgets that his father was the famous Borden Chantry and that Tom knows what he's doing. Though at first he is against having a gun, he buys himself a gun and a rifle. And not only does he know how to shoot, he knows how to fight. Local outlaws and gunmen mistake him for a victim but they were going to learn that he is no greenhorn and not a man to be trifled with.
This is a great book to read!! When I first read it, I had such a hard time putting it down when I had to do other things. I couldn't stop reading it. It's very exciting and suspenseful. The character of Tom Chantry is really likable and I was rooting him on throughout the whole book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I miss Louis L'Amour. I first discovered him when I was in high school in the '80s, and I remember devouring his books one after another. I remember the sadness I felt when I found out he'd passed away. Though I prefer his Sackett stories (especially William Tell, my favorite Sackett), his chronicles of the Talon and Chantry families also make excellent reading. Heck, even his non-series novels are gripping (FALLON, FIRST FAST DRAW, BENDIGO SHAFTER, FLINT, REILLY'S LUCK...and these are just the ones off the top of my head; he's got many other fine novels). The very enjoyable NORTH TO THE RAILS is a Chantry novel.

NORTH TO THE RAILS tells the story of young Tom Chantry, a businessman from New York who journeys to rugged Nevada and quickly garners a reputation for cowardice when he backs out of a gunfight. This hampers his attempts to purchase a herd of cattle as most folks in the Old West hold the quality of courage in high esteem, and no one now trusts Chantry. Tom does finally end up with steer when he makes a chancy deal with French Williams, a cattleman of canny but dubious nature. The deal is that Williams and his shifty cowhands will herd the beef if Chantry accompanies them for the duration of the cattle drive. If, at any time, Chantry falls out before the trail's end, then Williams gets every last steer for himself.

Williams doesn't waste time in testing Chantry's mettle as he comes up with challenges and obstacles for Tom. But, here's the thing: just because a man doesn't believe in killing doesn't mean he won't fight for what he believes in. And Chantry may now be from the soft and civilized East, but he was born in the wild West, and his father, who had been a respected marshall, had taught him some things...

Two things about the prolific Mr.
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I used to wonder why anyone read L'Amour when all the plots seemed the same. At some point, I picked up one (probably on vacation) and now I'm hooked. Sure, they're predictable - but so are 98% of the shows on TV. It doesn't mean they're not enjoyable.
I probably won't review many westerns, but this is a great one if you don't know which of his dozens to choose.
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A pleasing, unusual Western from genre master Louis L'Amour, "North To The Rails" is a fast-moving account of a cattle drive up the hard country of the American southwest, led by a man from back East who must choose between a moral code that hates guns and showing his fellow cowboys he is tough enough to live through his assignment.

"I believe a lot more can be done by reason than by guns," says the man, Tom Chantry, whose father Borden was killed by the gun (and was the subject of another L'Amour western.) Arguing against that philosophy are several nasty cowpokes, including the cunning French Williams, who schemes to take Chantry's cattle away from him even as he goes through the motions of helping him out.

That's not really a spoiler, as French is curiously upfront about what he's up to, in an amiably roundabout way. Williams is one of many welcome elements in L'Amour's 1971 novel, giving you what you expect in terms of the flavor of the Old West, but not in the expected ways.

When we first meet Tom Chantry, he's about to be dry-gulched by the nasty Talrim brothers. "This is raw country," he is told later, after he explains his policy about weapons. "The good folks are good because it's their nature, and the bad can run to meanness until someone fetches them up short."

L'Amour seems at times to be making points to modern audiences, as the early 1970s were about the time people began arguing about American firearms laws, questioning precisely those tenets of liberty and self-protection L'Amour's oeuvre espoused. For L'Amour, it's a question of circumstances. In the East, people can count on police and a code of refinement to keep them safe and unchallenged.
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