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Education of a Wandering Man (original 1989; edition 1990)

by Louis L'Amour

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5072020,055 (4.16)44
Member:msf59
Title:Education of a Wandering Man
Authors:Louis L'Amour
Info:Bantam (1990), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:memoir

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Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L'Amour (1989)

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
I got this for free out of a wheelbarrow of books a neighbor put out, so technically I didn't break my (loosely) self-imposed ban on buying more books before I reduced my TBR pile.

L'Amour says this isn't really an autobiography, but is supposed to focus on how he educated himself. He wanders enough to make it a pretty good, if incomplete autobiography. The byways are often more interesting than the main story. His education was mostly from reading, wandering, & talking to people, but he places an emphasis on the first. I'd love to see a list of all the books he mentions, but a Google search didn't bring up such a thing. There is one in the back of the book.

While most of his books were pretty simple, he went to some pains to be historically accurate in some ways, although he certainly bent the rules a lot with all the gun fights & show downs. Still, they're fun books & there are some that are fairly profound. Two that come to mind are [b:Bendigo Shafter: A Novel|123403|Bendigo Shafter A Novel|Louis L'Amour|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1333578725s/123403.jpg|2212159] & [b:The Lonesome Gods|1123549|The Lonesome Gods|Louis L'Amour|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1333578727s/1123549.jpg|2486214], favorites of mine. Both these protagonists grow up learning much the way L'Amour did & he uses phrases in those novels often in this book.

I didn't enjoy the last 1/3 - 1/4 as much as the first. He repeated himself & lectured more. I didn't care for that tone, but still found interesting facts. Too many of the books are just mentioned by title at times. It would have been nice to know a bit more about them. I have read or attempted to read some that he mentioned. His ability to read dry, complex texts obviously exceeds my own.

The Wikipedia article on him
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_L'Amour
is technically accurate, but lends a different slant than what I'm getting from this book. It says, "...eight years, they skinned cattle..." making it sound like Louis was with all or part of his family. According to him, he wasn't. He left home at 15 & did come back to help his parents move from OR to OK, but was otherwise out on his own. Apparently he grew big early & easily passed for several years older than he was.

An interesting tidbit from the move with his parents. They stopped at a ranch where Louis had worked to spend the night & he mentioned something about Butch Cassidy. The ranch owner replied that Butch had dropped by a couple of days ago to swap a couple of tires for a saddle. L'Amour explains that while the world thought that Cassidy had died down in Bolivia, many folks in WY, CO, & UT knew better & that. Except for the Pinkertons, everyone liked him since his holdups never killed anyone. (I'll take that with a large grain of salt.) I read the bit through several times, but could never decide if either L'Amour or the rancher were joking or serious. There is very little evidence either way for the life or death of Cassidy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butch_cassidy#Claims_of_post-1908_survival
I've read both theories in other books, too.

On the way home I was listening to the second section of [b:Fahrenheit 451|4381|Fahrenheit 451|Ray Bradbury|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1298412440s/4381.jpg|1272463] by [a:Ray Bradbury|1630|Ray Bradbury|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1190744775p2/1630.jpg]. A character says that one of the best things about books is that you can shut them when you need to think, unlike the TV & advertising of the book's world. I got home & read some of this book. The epigraph to one of the chapters I read was "A book is a friend that will do what no friend does - be silent when we wish to think." - Will Durant, the author of Story of Civilization
Kind of neat getting the same sentiment from two such different sources within an hour of each other.

I'd love to give this 5 stars, but it was a bit too uneven for that. It was a good book & I'm glad I read it. I'm fairly sure I'm not going to keep it, though. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
From Publishers Weekly This is for the most fervent L'Amour fans only, those who consider it of moment, for example, to peruse his extensive reading lists for 1930, '31, '32, '33, '34, '35, '37 (the '36 list was lost). So banal is this memoir that one wonders if the late author regarded it as complete, or as the first draft it reads like. Ignoring chronology, L'Amour flits across his '30s' experiences in the western U.S. and Far East as seaman, ranch hand, mine guard, hobo. Interspersed are discourses on boxing, Buddhism, whatever comes to mind, on books he read by the likes of Shakespeare, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Nietzsche, plus pedestrian social observations and homilies. We learn that he was born (when?) in North Dakota, one of five children of a veterinarian father; that, quitting school at age 15, he wandered for a spell; that his wife's name is Kathy and that he had children (how many?). Author of more bestsellers than can be tracked, accounted to be a superb story-teller, L'Amour is surprisingly superficial in his own yarn. Photos.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal Despite being disjointed, rambling, and repetitious, these unfinished memoirs by the noted Western author (who died last June) possess a raw enthusiasm for life and for books that is too rarely encountered today. For most of the book, L'Amour recounts scattered anecdotes of his knockabout years as a sailor, prize fighter, silver miner, and longshoreman who ranged from New Orleans to Singapore with a book in his hip pocket. The memoir portions are tall tales, well told, but the "education" portions are mere catalogs of books that will hardly interest even the most loyal fans. Still, L'Amour's sincere love of books and reading and his faith in humanity lend the book considerable charm.
- Michael Edmonds, State Historical Soc. of Wisconsin, Madison
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. ( )
1 vote | Hans.Michel | Sep 13, 2013 |
Louis L'Amour's poem, "I Haven't Read Gone with the Wind," includes the line, "For every book that they have read, I've read forty-nine." When L'Amour penned this, he was not speaking hyperbolically. He quite literally read more books in a single year--indeed, every single year--than many read in a lifetime.

In "Education of a Wandering Man," the famous author of Westerns chronicles his life during the 1930s. At fifteen, he left his home in North Dakota to become a hobo--a traveling working man. He traveled extensively throughout the world for the next decade plus, while reading every book he could get his hands on. As the book title suggests, he truly educated himself during his wandering years, and would he have completed such learning in a scholastic setting, he would surely have attained multiple advanced degrees.

This was an excellent book to read for several reasons. First, it sheds light on a man who I thought was "just" a writer of Westerns. As it turns out, L'Amour was a lover of stories, nature and knowledge, and he prided himself on the historical accuracy of his books. Even if the characters were fictional, he took great pains to describe the settings, the land, the customs and even the language as they really would have been. Second, one learns in the book that L'Amour had a wide and varied past that included stints as a miner, sailor, prospector and boxer. Put simply, Louis L'Amour was a man's man, a hard-working, no-nonsense, no-excuses kind of guy, but with a softer poetry-loving, be-kind-to-animals side, too. Third, the book introduces the reader to a wide range of characters who turn up in L'Amour's life, most of whom are unlike anyone most of us might meet today and would be worthy of biographies (could they be written) in their own right.

I don't really have anything bad to say about this book. It's an inspirational, educational read about a man who should be a role model for us all. ( )
2 vote jclemence | Jan 17, 2013 |
Should have been titled, Education of a Rambling Man, for that was the essence of the man and this loosely structured autobiography. Okay, okay, I get it that L'Amour educated himself through reading, but there wasn't enough critical evaluation of all of that reading for my appetite. I wanted to know WHAT specifically he learned from so much reading, but his pastime seemed more obsessive in nature or done purely out of boredom and not for any great quest for insight. I don't recall reading any passages at all about the sex life of a cowboy, for example, but surely from all of his readings he should know we readers need a sprinkling of that in his own autobiography! Why the cover photo of such a ruggedly handsome Marlboro Man and then no sharing of sensuality in his autobiography, other than to write over and over he was passionate about reading, and then eventually took up writing? Did he hook up with hookers in Shanghai or not? Did he deflower any damsels in the Dust Bowl? The more detailed passages describing how he cheated death on the edge of wilderness were interesting, but the endless lists of books he read or reread in different ports while waiting to be paid or transported became fatiguing. I didn't finish the book, as my mind began to wander too, and not being such a voracious reader as he, I intend to be more selective. ( )
  sross008 | Jan 1, 2013 |
The number of books L'Amour read astounds me, and reminds me of the phrase, " I never met a book I didn't like." I don't remember him speaking ill of any book he read, and there were hundreds. I'd like to see L"Amour's 10,000 books on Library Thing one day, and will even help with the cataloging; but to date the L'Amour family does not want to release a catalog of the library to the public. ( )
  moibibliomaniac | Oct 18, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Louis L'Amourprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boorstin, DanielIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boorstin, Daniel J.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
L'amour, Louis; Introduction by Boorstin, Daniel J.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
L'amour, Louis; Introduction by Boorstin, Daniel J.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Photographs, Some Black & WhiteIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Alberto and Gioia Vitale
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It was May 14. In a few days my class back in Jamestown, North Dakota would be graduating from high school, and I was in Singapore.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553286528, Paperback)

From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from books, from yondering, and from some remarkable men and women--that shaped him as a storyteller and as a man. Like classic L'Amour fiction, Education of a Wandering Man mixes authentic frontier drama--such as the author's desperate efforts to survive a sudden two-day trek across the blazing Mojave desert--with true-life characters like Shanghai waterfront toughs, desert prospectors, and cowboys whom Louis L'Amour met while traveling the globe. At last, in his own words, this is a story of a one-of-a-kind life lived to the fullest . . . a life that inspired the books that will forever enable us to relive our glorious frontier heritage.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:52 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from books, from yondering, and from some remarkable men and women--that shaped him as a storyteller and as a man. Like classic L'Amour fiction, Education of a Wandering Man mixes authentic frontier drama--such as the author's desperate efforts to survive a sudden two-day trek across the blazing Mojave desert--with true-life characters like Shanghai waterfront toughs, desert prospectors, and cowboys whom Louis L'Amour met while traveling the globe. At last, in his own words, this is a story of a one-… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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