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

by Louis L'Amour

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4951920,650 (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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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 |
In this book, L'Amour tells the story of how books gave him the education he didn't get in school. For personal and economic reasons (this was during the depression) he had to leave school and home and become a wandering worker - earning money wherever he could. He had an appetite for books and knowledge - so he decided to educate himself by reading anything he could get his hands on. He often gave up food so he could read more books.

When he finally was able to settle down, he focused his reading on specific topics that he wanted to learn about. He eventually became a successful author because he took time to learn of what he was writing. You'll not find historical errors in his books! Since he read voraciously, he learned what does and does not work in successful writing.

He says the greatest compliment he wanted was for someone to read his books and say "Yes, that's how it really was."

He realizes his education was unorthodox, and he says he wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but it worked very well for him.

Anyone who loves "books about books" will probably enjoy this memoir. He doesn't go into details that most memoirs do...such as how he met his wife, what fighting in WWII was like, the birth of his children, etc, but instead he focuses on the books he was reading while he was having certain adventures - and what those books taught him. ( )
10 vote BookAngel_a | Sep 20, 2010 |
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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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