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Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry

Dead Man's Walk (2000)

by Larry McMurtry

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Dead Man's Walk throws us back in time when Gus and Call were young and green and just starting off their careers as Texas Rangers.

It definitely can't match the greatness of the first book, but I really enjoyed this shorter prologue. And plus, I was still a little in shock over the didthatjusthappen scene from the first book. So it was good to have all the characters come together again.

The best part about this book was seeing Gus and Call's friendship. The rangering parts were interesting, but we have already seen that before. The
Indian interactions were strong and action-packed, but again, we've already seen similar things before.

But what this book brings new to the reader is how our two main characters acted and became friends as youngin' rangers. They are exactly what I would expect. Gus still a lady-chaser and an exaggerating braggart. He doesn't have quite the skill to back up his talk yet, so I loved it when he ended up embarrassed or surprised. Call is definitely that strict captain - or corporal at this point in time. But you see them start to pick up the qualities they embody in the Lonesome Dove. And it's like peeking into history.

I guess we were also introduced to the other important characters, like Clara, Buffalo Hump, etc. I did not like Clara at all. To me, she's a bit of an arrogant one without any positive qualities.

I very much liked Matilda though. Strong enough to go hack up a turtle, woman enough to reclaim almost-dead bodies, caring enough to follow and save boys she loves.

On another note, I am always appalled and amazed at how casually they bring up such gruesome topics and the level of description that goes into such things. Such as the scalping, a scalped boy left aliveor the torture, or ease of hanging someone. It is always said so casually: a slice at the back of the neck and a yank off of the entire hair. Ugh. Horrifically gruesome, but it works in these books.

Solid 3 stars. I don't think it deserves any more because it didn't really wow me.

Note: I am silly and didn't read book two before this one. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
I normally don't read westerns, but thsi was amazing reading. Such detail in the reality of the old west, held me in suspense right up to the end. ( )
  nilbett | Aug 29, 2014 |
My review for those who do not want to read this book:

Hungry, thirsty, lost, hungry, thirsty, lost, hungry, thirsty, Comanches, hungry, thirsty, lost, hungry, thirsty, Mexicans, hungry, thirsty, walking, hungry, thirsty, walking.

My Review for those who may:
This book, while entertaining, is rather repetitive. I'm not sure how entertaining it would be without having read Lonesome Dove first (a clearly superior novel). Strangely, both Gus and Call are bystanders rather than protagonists in this novel. McMurtry does give us what we want though, the genesis of Gus and Call's friendship and adventures. He just doesn't involve them in any significant way, which is a bit of a let down.

Part IV is also a bit odd as there is a POV shift for half of the remaining 7 chapters. We are now seeing some events through the Comanche's eyes, and once from the perspective of a slave trader. I wonder why the change after 440 pages?

I am assuming that Comanche Moon is the volume where Gus and Call do a lot of the growing up and killing to get them to the point where we meet them in Lonesome Dove (which is set about 30 years later). ( )
  dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
'Matilda Jane Roberts was naked as the air. Known throughout south Texas as the Great Western, she came walking up from the muddy Rio Grande holding a big snapping turtle by the tail.'

What great imagery to start off a novel with! After being less than thrilled with The Sisters Brothers, I was hungry for a more classic (in style and content, not age) western. Lonesome Dove has been on my TBR list for a while, so I decided to start off with the chronological first book in the series.

Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call fancy themselves rangers in 1840s Texas. Unfortunately for them, it’s a very dangerous time in that part of the country. Comanche Indians roam the land, and the troops are not at all equipped to handle their speed, stealth, and cunning. One in particular, Buffalo Hump, seems to have his eye on Gus and Call, and would like nothing more than to add their scalps to his belt.

The Rangers’ expeditions, particularly the one to Santa Fe where they plan to defeat the Mexicans, are (obviously to the reader) inept, ill-equipped, and led by men who have no idea what they are walking (usually literally) in to. Things go from bad to worse, and you start to wonder how the heck they are going to get out of the desert and back to safety.

McMurtry’s characters are colorful and varied, and you feel their fright, misery, and hopelessness. This book is generally believed to be not as good as Lonesome Dove, and if that’s the case, I know I have something really great to look forward to. ( )
1 vote miyurose | Nov 1, 2011 |
Written in 1995, ten years after McMurtry’s huge success with Lonesome Dove, Dead Man’s Walk was billed as a prequel to that masterpiece. The timing was good. Hardcore fans of Lonesome Dove were already intimately familiar with the 1989 television movie of the same name, and they were probably watching episodes of the new miniseries by that name that ran in 1994 and 1995. So, most fans would find it hard to resist a new book that featured teenaged versions of Augustus McCrae and W.F. Call, two of the most beloved characters in the Western genre.

Gus and Call are literally two “young pups” when it comes to the ways of the world, although Gus is already showing his delight in keeping company with the nighttime ladies who so willingly offer him a good time – as long as he has the cash to pay for it. When the two young men, trying to survive Texas on their own, randomly meet, they quickly form a bond that will last them for the remainder of their lives.

At loose ends, and hoping for a little adventure, the two join up with a raggedy bunch of Texas Rangers on two different missions, both of which the boys will be lucky to survive. It is the second trek into the Texas desert, during which the Rangers must cross the “Dead Man’s Walk” from west Texas to New Mexico that gives the book its title. But, before the boys and their fellow survivors begin what seems like a certain death march, they must survive the attentions of the Comanche, Buffalo Hump, and the Apache, Gomez, two men who will haunt Gus and Call for rest of their lives.

Dead Man’s Walk pulls no punches when it comes to the raunchy lifestyle of the nineteenth century Texas Rangers or the torture-focused warfare the Apache and Comanche tribes waged against the white settlers encroaching upon their hunting grounds. To say that the book is not for the fainthearted reader is an understatement. What makes Dead Man’s Walk so intriguing, and atypical of the popular western genre, is that McMurtry does not take sides in the conflict between the settlers and the Indians. He presents the good and bad elements of both groups and leaves it up to the reader to decide the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the conflict.

In addition to meeting Gus, Call, Buffalo Hump and Gomez, the reader will delight in spotting the young Clara, as well. That she was “love at first sight for Gus” is certain; what was on flirtatious Clara’s mind remains to be determined.

Dead Man’s Walk is a great western adventure but, as usual with a McMurtry novel, character development does not take a back seat to plot. The book is filled with memorable secondary characters, good guys and villains alike, and its ending (although it might seem farfetched to some) works perfectly for those that grew up on old-fashioned television and movie Westerns.

This is good stuff.

Rated at: 5.0 ( )
2 vote SamSattler | Jan 17, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684857545, Paperback)

In this prequel to McMurtry's 1986 Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call are invincible young bucks, Texas Rangers, full of youthful energy and, quite frankly, full of themselves. That is until they're utterly consumed by the vicious battlefield of the early-19th-century Wild West. Their journey takes them across barren deserts and raging rivers and through steep and snowy mountains, often on foot and with barely enough provisions and clothing to keep them from certain death. The constant threat of attack by Comanches keeps them awake nights, fearing for their lives--and for good reason. "Buffalo Hump reached down and grabbed the terrified boy by his long black hair. He yanked his horse to a stop, lifted Zeke Moody off his feet, and slashed at his head with a knife, just above the boy's ears. Then he whirled and raced across the front of the huddled Rangers, dragging Zeke by the hair. As the horse increased its speed, the scalp tore loose and Zeke fell free. Buffalo Hump had whirled again, and held aloft the bloody scalp."

This bedraggled group of adventurers--on their foolhardy expedition to seize Santa Fe from the Mexicans (who also prove to be formidable enemies)--includes a salty assortment of cowboys, scouts, fortune seekers, and a fat and sassy whore nicknamed "The Great Western." McMurtry's adept storytelling paints a portrait of the Wild West that at times is palpable. One can almost smell the campfires, the body odors, and the long-awaited piece of meat after weeks without a proper meal. Dead Man's Walk will satisfy your craving for adventure, without having to put your life on the line.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:44 -0400)

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Follows the adventures of Texas Rangers Gus and Call as they join an expedition to seize the Mexican territory of Santa Fe and journey home across the Jornada Del Muerto.

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