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Dead Man's Walk


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About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.


McMurtry's recent novels (The Late Child, LJ 5/15/95 and Pretty Boy Floyd, LJ 9/1/94) have been disappointing, but in this prequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove (LJ 7/85), he shows himself to be in top form again. During the years of the Texas Republic, a group of Rangers travel across Texas on several misbegotten missions. Two of the youngest Rangers, Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, are featured in Lonesome Dove. Their coming of age can be charted by the rivers they cross‘the Brazos, the Trinity, the Big Wichita‘and the hardships they endure. Death is a constant companion, coming quickly at the hand of hostile Natives, fellow rangers, and nature itself. Their last expedition, to take Santa Fe from the Mexicans, ends disastrously with a heartstopping game of chance determining who will live and who will die. From opening line to last page, this marvelous novel‘part soap opera, part slapstick, part tragedy‘is impossible to put down. Very highly recommended for all popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/95.]‘Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle

Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, the heroes of Lonesome Dove, return in a rousing if slightly contrived yarn set decades before the events of that Pulitzer Prize-winning novel‘and earlier still than the latter-day adventures of Call, detailed in Streets of Laredo. Now hardly more than teenage runaways, the pair, just recruited into the ragtag Rangers of the new Texas Republic, come face-to-face with death on their baptismal patrol as Gus, foolishly wandering away from his guard post, stumbles onto the grotesquely disfigured Comanche chief Buffalo Hump and narrowly escapes with the Indian's lance embedded in his hip. Gus and Call return safely to San Antonio but, lured by myths of silver and gold, the hapless duo sign on to a small army led by a former seafaring pirate intent on liberating Santa Fe from Mexican rule. An unforgettable (and equally unlikely) crew of blackhearted villains, foppish officers and star-crossed heroes and heroines, the sorry little force heads west only to be terrorized by Buffalo Hump, then captured by Mexican militia. With the ruthless Captain Salazar calling the shots, Mexicans and Americans are ordered to march toward El Paso. Along the way, Call is whipped nearly to death for a minor offense, and the group is stalked by a murderous Apache. Forced by Salazar to cross the high desert known as ``dead man's walk,'' Gus, Call and company end up at a leper colony near El Paso, where they find salvation. Suffering from McMurtry's usual coincidences and miraculous escapes, as well as from some stereotypical key characters and too much obvious melodrama, this falls short of both Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo. Still, it's bracing entertainment in its own right, with McMurtry flashing his storytelling skills as he recreates the salad days of two flawed but all-American heroes adrift in the Old West. 500,000 first printing. (Sept.)

""Dead Man's Walk "is a very good read . . . [It] will keep you reading [and] make you miss meals." --"Seattle Times"
"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"
"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". . . succeeds marvelously . . . resurrecting two brilliantly conceived characters and delivering a rousing tale of the Wild West."--Michael Berry, "San Francisco Chronicle"
"In "Dead Man's Walk", McMurtry uses a simple, wry, immensely accessible storyteller's voice to ponder the same questions that Melville and Conrad did. This is a great book. . . . Larry McMurtry, at his best here, is one of the finest American novelists, ever. We are lucky he's around."--John Milius, "Los Angeles Times"

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