This is probably one of the best books about the western frontiers of the US ever written. In fact, it was the 1985 winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is an"epic masterpiece of the American west!"
And it is one of my favorite books that actually was made into a tv miniseries that is absolutely faithful to the book page by page. The most astonishing thing about the miniseries was the brilliant casting and acting - so true to the novel that if you have seen it and read the book, you can't imagine one without the other.
All that said, the book is about two aging Texas Rangers who have a small cattle ranch close to the Mexican border. Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call have retired after years fighting with, chasing and hanging Indians, Mexicans, bank robbers, killers and whatever other sort of badd guy that crossed their path. They also have had a constant verbal battle with each other that never, ever stops.
In the town of Lonesome Dove is a small saloon where Lorena Wood, the town prostitute, holds court. Augustus visits her often and she feels an attachment for the cranky old ranger. Woodrow, on the other hand, has no time for anything except his ranch, cattle and personal demons. Both Augustus and Woodrow are bored and decide to steal a herd of cattle from across the border and drive them north to Montana and start a ranch there. Seems like an excellent idea at the time, but things don;t go as planned.
Not only does Lorena tag along, but Newt, an "orphan" teenager is hired, along with a bunch of other cowboys, to drive the herd. His is a stormy past, and secrets are revealed as they travel north. Unexoectedly, when stopping for provisions in San Antonio, they run into an old friend and one-time ranger, Jake Spoon, who, because he is weak, lazy and rides to a different drummer, meets a fate that is unexpected and seems cruel, but is part of the times.
There is a woman along the way that Augustus meets - his first and only true love, Clara Allen. Also traveling in the same direction, but not with them is a small town sherrif from back east, July Johnson, who is looking for his runaway pregnant wife. She, in turn, is looking for her ex-lover who is on the run from the law. W=How this whole group meets up, interacts, fights and survives is a story in itself.
A very bad villian is a necessary evil, and McMurtry has written one that will give you chills. Blue Duck, a half-breed Indian, has it in for anyone who crosses his path, and unfortunately for all involved, this does happen with devastating results.
This is not just a story of a cattle drive, it is a true testament to the friendships and times of the West. The unforgettable characters that the author has creafted with such care and detail will haunt you long after you put the book away. The trust that each person in this book has to put in another, the lives lost and saved, changed and ruined over the course of the drive are unique to this exceptional novel and deserving of any readers highest praise.
One you read it, go rent the movie. You will find that the people and places are so real in your mind before you even turn on the dvd player, you can recite the dialogue along with Robert Duval and Tommy Lee Jones. This is a true American classic and a treasure to own and read.
Title: Lonesome Dove