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Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead
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Far Bright Star

by Robert Olmstead

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14511117,628 (4.01)35
  1. 00
    Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry (Limelite)
    Limelite: Another treatment of the brutality of the West and good guys overmatched by bad guys in the cowboy era.
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» See also 35 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
I'm nauseated, the book is too violent to read. ( )
1 vote nhukhue | Aug 30, 2018 |
Recommend by Luis Albert Urrea on his Facebook page.
My grandfather loved Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. Wonder what he would have made of this. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Recommend by Luis Albert Urrea on his Facebook page.
My grandfather loved Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. Wonder what he would have made of this. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Recommend by Luis Albert Urrea on his Facebook page.
My grandfather loved Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. Wonder what he would have made of this. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Overarching themes of man vs. nature and man’s inhumanity to man in this unflinchingly brutal and severe western set in Mexico during the chase to get Pancho Villa in 1916.

An American army of “freebooters, felons, Christians, drifters, patriots . . . surgeons, mechanics, assassins,” proves to be no match for a band of Mexican mercenaries commanded by a beautiful woman with an extreme fondness for torture and degredation.

“They are the future dead” are words that couldn’t be truer. Olmstead proceeds to savagely kill them all at the hands of the Yaqui, except for the leader of the troop, Napoleon Childs, who is set loose after undergoing torture and general abuse. He wanders in the desert, naked, with only his hat and his .45, loaded with a single bullet, and instruction to “tell the others what happened.” Napoleon’s brother, Xenophon (a lover of horses), along with the Apache scout, Ted, find him dead yet not dead and slowly he recovers in their care.

Both in his wandering in the desert and in his recovery delirium, Napoleon’s mind tries to discover what he can know about death, deal with the horror of his memories of the hopelessly unqualified “soldiers” he led, and heal itself of guilt over the incident. Of course, he can’t make sense of unexplained evil.

The strength of brotherly love, humanity and grace between Napoleon and Xenophon redeem the story along with the bonds the two of them make between their horses, lifting the book from despondency to redemptive clarity in spare arid prose, fitting to the landscape that nearly destroys all who venture into it.

I had to read this book as fast as I could – in a single sitting – because the ‘true grit’ was so disturbing and graphic. Powerful and upsetting though his book is, no doubt Olmstead is the best writer about the futility of war, of the wild glory of horses and the relationship men have with them that I have ever read. ( )
3 vote Limelite | Dec 21, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
"Far Bright Star" makes the reader bleed with the characters and sweat with the intensity of the sun.
 
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Epigraph
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth...
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Henry V
Dedication
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Thus far the summer of 1916 had been a siege of wrathy wind and heated air. Dust and light. Sand and light. Wind and light.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The year is 1916. The enemy, Pancho Villa, is elusive. The terrain is unforgiving, the intense heat and dust both relentless and overpowering. Through the mountains and across the long dry stretches of Mexico, Napoleon Childs, an aging cavalryman, leads an expedition of inexperienced horse soldiers on seemingly fruitless searches. Napoleon has weathered the storms of battle with a toughness that has become like a second skin, with the Rattler, a horse who's as flinty and seasoned as he. But this time, Napoleon can't control one of his young soldiers who has a penchant for reckless, dramatic actions--and who singlehandedly, in his desire to prove himself, makes a move that is the beginning of the end.… (more)

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