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The Brave Cowboy Paperback – April 1, 1992
2016 Book Awards
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“Abbey is a fresh breath from the farther reaches and canyons of the diminishing frontier.” (Houston Chronicle)
“Abbey writes with fierce eloquence of landscape and city, of stunted souls and drunken despair. He can be funny and poignant at once” (Publishers Weekly)
“We are living… among punishments and ruins. For those that know this, Edward Abbey’s books remain an indispensable solace.” (Wendell Berry)
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
Burns is a man who doesn't merely cling to ideals of loyalty, privacy and individual freedom. His internal machinery accepts no alternative at any level. Jack Burns is a man who won't cut a fence unless it stands in the way of where he wants to go. He recognizes the existence of the creeping encroachments and compromises to his choices and ignores them. The modern acquiescence by the rest of society is foreign to him.
Burns descends the mesa into Albuquerque, encounters modern city life and is battered by it without 'losing' in the usual sense of the word, and leaves on the run from the legal instruments intended to keep us all on the straight and narrow. The end is inevitable.
Readers who know Albuquerque will enjoy the ride across the 'Volcans', the places in the Rio Grande Valley still recognizable despite the years since Abbey wrote the book, the harrowing climb up the Sandias pursued by the military and law enforcement community. Those who don't know Albuquerque or New Mexico will appreciate the type of individual Burns portrays: a man born too late, unable to compromise.
I haven't seen the movie mentioned by other reviewers. I also didn't see the shortcomings of the book mentioned by several. I saw only a writer who created a character much as Abbey saw himself, as many people today see themselves, and a plot that carried those traits through to the end. No one, I imagine Abbey would say, can dodge the steamroller.
Abbey was still in his twenties when he wrote this novel, and its point of view is that of a young man full contradictory passions and attitudes. The brave cowboy of the title, a prototypical figure on horseback, is the central character in maybe half the pages of the novel. A younger college friend, imprisoned for refusing to register for the draft, is another character. The local sheriff gets a large section to himself. The novel also follows the progress of a long-haul truck driver across the country. The lives of these four characters intersect in the narrative, while each of them also represents a different perspective. And they don't all quite converge in a single point of view. But that was Abbey, an outspoken man who wasn't afraid to contradict himself.
To its credit, the novel can be read on more than one level. It uses the cowboy to represent free-spirited, libertarian ideas set in conflict with brute ignorance and repression. It decries urbanization and celebrates the limitless, stark beauty of the mountains and desert (the novel is set in northern New Mexico).Read more ›
Q: Where's your papers?...Your I.D.--draft card, social security, driver's license? A: Don't have none. Don't need none. I already know who I am.
Edward Abbey is one of the patron saints of the modern Environmental movement; right up there with Rachel Carson. Desert Solitaire, his memoir of working in a National Park, is an impassioned statement of preservationist principles and his comic novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, is a virtual primer for ecoterrorism. But my personal favorite of his books is the little remembered Brave Cowboy, the basis for the excellent but equally forgotten Kirk Douglas film, Lonely Are the Brave. It belongs on the shelf with the other uniquely American paens to independence and rugged individualism: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest(read Orrin's review), Cool Hand Luke, From Here to Eternity (read Orrin's review), All the Pretty Horses (read Orrin's review), etc.
Set in the mid 1950's, the novel tells the story of Jack Burns, a latter day cowboy, now reduced to working as a hand on a sheep ranch, who gets himself thrown into prison so that he can help his draft dodging friend escape. But when his buddy refuses to compromise the moral purity of his concientious objector status, Burns is forced to break out on his own, assuming that a vicious Mexican prison guard he has aggravated doesn't kill him first. In the meantime the authorities have realized that Jack too is unregistered and that while they were in college together, he helped his friend with some radical causes, however ineffectual. So when he does manage to escape, Jack ends up being treated as a dangerous fugitive, instead of as the fairly harmless eccentric that he is.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such a well written story. I found myself chuckling and sad at the same time. I felt for this cowboy, who could not, and would not conform. Read morePublished 18 days ago by karenkuehnel
I read this book because I really enjoyed the movie that it was made into: "Lonely Are the Brave. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ben Rothfeld
Interesting depiction of a free spirit clashing with modern society. Well written, with vivid realistic characters with the exception of the husband in jail, whose reasons for... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Best western ever, a sort of western noir that ranks with the likes of "High Noon". See also the movie which follows the book fairly closely: Great performances by William... Read morePublished 11 months ago by D. Griggs
I remember the movie with Kirk Douglas and had hopes the book would surpass the movie. It didn't. I'm an Abbey fan, but this story is not up to par, clearly a very early work of a... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Michael A. Duffy
I was not fortunate enough to meet Edward Abbey-but I wish I could have been one of the cowboys he had to have known. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Wildhorses7777