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Dead Man's Walk Paperback – January 1, 1995
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"McMurtry remains a good storyteller, and he remains a master of dialogue, doing a sort of frontier version of Oscar Wilde."--Washington Post Book World
"Dead Man's Walk. . . succeeds marvelously . . . resurrecting two brilliantly conceived characters and delivering a rousing tale of the Wild West."--Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle
"Gee-haw! Larry McMurtry is back in the yarn-slinging business--with a vengeance. . . . Readers will gobble up Dead Man's Walk--a wild and wooly read--from cover to cover."--Denver Post
"Dead Man's Walk is a very good read . . . [It] will keep you reading [and] make you miss meals." --Seattle Times
"McMurtry does great characters. Call and McCrae are real, lifelike, believable, and lovable. . . . McMurtry's stories are brimming with passion and page-turning excitement. . . It's good, good stuff."--Kansas City Star
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.54 pounds
- Paperback : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0684857545
- ISBN-13 : 978-0684857541
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 1 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster (January 1, 1995)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #26,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In this novel, Woodrow Call and Augustus “Gus” McCrae are just young men who have joined the Texas Rangers. On their first ride out to survey a new road, they meet up with Buffalo Hump, one of the fiercest Comanche warriors on the plains. They lose two men, and are lucky to make it back safely to San Antonio.
On their next adventure, the troop heads out for Santa Fe, New Mexico – over a thousand miles away! They meet up with a tornado. Gus falls in love with practically every woman he sees. Gus loves to embellish his stories with outright fibs. Call has a cooler head and thinks Gus is more than a little lazy and spends too much time whoring and drinking. Call intends to save his money for better weapons. They finally get to the meeting place for this expedition and meet Caleb Cobb and his sidekick Billy Falconer. Caleb is not as Gus presented him and Billy is mean. Along for the ride is General Lloyd. He is a drunk and so out of it that he cannot ride his own horse, so he rides in a wagon.
Riding through the plains, Call had plenty of time to think about getting lost. The desolate countryside was daunting. The reader has to remember that there were no streetlights and no guardrails to help them along their way. There was nothing but blackness and the fear of losing one’s way at night. The fear of Indians and a horse going lame was another consideration.
I simply wouldn’t have made it. I’m not tough enough.
All of their little party is shocked when Caleb Cobb invites Buffalo Hump into camp to eat and parley. The men absolutely hate him and want to kill him. But they stay their feelings during the meeting. When Caleb wants to give Buffalo Hump Billy Falconer’s fine Holland and Holland rifle as a present, Falconer balks and threatens to quit. Cobb “resigns” Falconer and gives the rifle to Buffalo Hump who rides off without another word.
Later the Comanche set fire to the plains from three directions when the soldiers have their backs to a steep and deep canyon. Caleb Cobb dithers and the men just have time to leap over the edge of the canyon in order to save themselves. Several men die in the attempt and the horses run off. When the fire dies down, the men find themselves afoot with no food and very little water. The desert is unforgiving.
Call, Gus and Bigfoot are captured by the Mexican army. They are shackled and walking across the plains when the little camp was attacked by a grizzly. It scattered the frightened Mexicans, killed Captain Salazar’s horse and ran rampant through the camp. Call, Gus and Bigfoot got away and were lucky enough to find Caleb Cobb and a diminished troop of men. They marched without food or water for a while and were met by the Mexican army – hundreds of men, mounted soldiers and cannon. Captured once again, Caleb Cobb surrenders. Call is absolutely furious with Cobb.
They are escorted and on their way to Mexico City over a thousand miles away. The problem is that they have to cross an area called the dead man’s walk. Through sleet, bitter cold and without much food or water they march on. Then handed off to a humorless major and his soldiers for the remainder of their walk, they are told to bathe in the Rio Grande. It is very cold. Some of the younger of the Texans panic and start to flee. The Mexican soldiers run rampant on them, killing several despite the major’s yelling at them to stop, and Bigfoot as well yelling at the Texans.
When they get to the little town which is surrounded by feral dogs, they are told to pick blindfolded from a jar of beans. There are ten men left – and Mattie- and if they pick a white bean they will live. If they pick a black bean, they will be shot.
Gus and Call make it and then they meet a Scottish Lady Carey and her Viscount son Willy. The Lady has leprosy, but her son and maids do not. She proposes to the five men that they take her to Galveston. Since they are now housed in a leper colony and there are no soldiers about, they decide to go.
What follows is perhaps the most amusing and inexplicable journey yet. It is brilliant.
What a good novel this is. Across the plains of Texas and New Mexico and down the Dead Man’s Walk, Gus and Call manage to survive against all odds. It is a harrowing and scary journey of several thousand miles. (I wouldn’t have made it one in that environment.)
Top reviews from other countries
To clear things up the order of publication for the series:
Lonesome Dove (1985)
Streets of Laredo (1993)
Dead's Man's Walk (1995)
Commanche Moon (1997)
Though in chronological order the series goes:
Dead Man' walk
Streets of Laredo
Dead Man's Walk then gives us the very early years of Gus McCrea and Woodrow Call and depicts how the boys first became friends and of how they joined the Texas Rangers. The book starts with Gus and Woodrow signed on as rangers with a road scouting expedition led by the inept Major Chevallier. During the expedition they are repeatedly attacked by Indians led by a deformed commanche called Buffalo Hump. During this early section of the book we get to know the important characters, especially Gus and Woodrow - their personalities are sketched out over a number of brilliantly written set pieces, usually involving the war chief, Buffalo Hump. Gus is the talkative, whore loving easy to get along with type, which his best friend, Woodrow is solid, dependable, serious minded and not all together likable. When Gus visits a whore he is in love with her and treats her with genuine affection, while when Woodrow visits he gets his business done and then gets out of there without a wasted word. The two men are polar opposited but they live and breath as real people on the page and the chemistry beteen them is excellent.
There are several other secondary characters who are equally well drawn - Matty, known as the Great Western, is the whore who throws snapping turtles at them men and generally allows them a poke on tick, Bigfoot Wallace is a mountain man with a fine line in storytelling, Shadrach is another mountain man, an aged character in the final years of his life. Then we have Long Bill Coleman and Johnny Carthage, two everyman types who provide one or two moments of comic relief as well as several truly poignant scenes.
A truly excellent book with a story that is richly drawn and truthful to the period - there is much cruelty that the author doesn't avoid in order to build up this very real story.
These boys that the story follows ,are so well write and real, Larry describes fear perfectly , he describes love perfectly, he describes what makes us human. I particularly sympathise with Gus MCcrae , he has displayed the most emotion and true human actions. I.e knees knocking when the commanches first made an appearance. His love for the girl in the store in Austin. His strive to impress his fellow men. His whole journey has made me fall in love with Larry's style of writing.
It's an amazing read and it's truly deserving of its awards. Can highly recommend