I grew up in a home where no fictional books were allowed. Every summer from about nine years old onward, I’d spend several weeks visiting my cousins in Hayward, California. I slept in the study, facing a large bookshelf loaded with my Uncle Donald’s entire collection of Louis L’Amour “frontier novels,” that he was very proud of.
I gazed at the colorful spines, studying the pictures of rugged men and gaudy women that were strictly off-limits. But by flashlight, I began to read dozens over the years of summers I spent in that den–my first introduction to Westerns and what launched my insatiable love of Westerns from that time until now.
I began to collect my own bookshelf of Louis L’Amour novels by the time I was 21. Over the years, I found nearly all of them. One of my favorite books was Last of the Breed, (1987). This book was significantly out of character from L’Amour’s previous books–a Gorbachev era James Bond-style read about a Native American US Air Force pilot shot down and captured between Alaska and Soviet Russia. Last of the Breed is the tale of his escape. Riveting.
Louis L’Amour was your granddad’s favorite read, but I recommend reading the Sackett series if you are curious what he found so compelling. It’s the full monty of what L’Amours Westerns were about. You’ll absolutely enjoy Jubal Sackett.
L’Amour’s gunslinger novels were used in writing Hollywood Western scripts. The author was often present at these sets and on location as an advisor. He lived with his family in Los Angeles, California, but traveled and vacationed as a “jet setter” with his friends, the Hollywood elite, to areas like Cote d’ Azur, where he enjoyed the beach resorts of the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Monaco.
L’Amour spent long weeks of the year by himself with a notebook, tent camping in remote areas of the Southern California deserts while his family stayed back in Palm Springs. His solo adventures in these far-flung areas inspired his thoughts and were where he manifested his bigger-than-life characters. Louis L’Amour passed away in 1988.
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