Louis L’Amour was raised in the American West. His early years were spent in North Dakota. Louis’ father arrived in the barren, wind swept hills of North Dakota in the 1880’s and worked there for many years in different trades. Louis came under the influence of his environment, including a grandfather, Abraham Dearborn, who regaled him with tales of the Wild Wild West, the Civil War, Indiana Wars, and his own adventures as a soldier. Uncles contributed to L’Amour’s formative years. Two were genuine cowboys, the “real deal,” and one was a ranch manager, which was a considerable step above a foreman.
Louis L’Amour was an avid reader at an early age. He began reading at a very early age and was soon devouring the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan), Jack London (Call of the Wild), and other authors of adventures guaranteed to set the imagination of any young mind on fire.
Later, he would use that vivid imagination to write the classic tales of Hopalong Cassidy, an enduring Western fiction character whose movies helped shape the perspective of millions as to the Old West and its cast of characters. Many do not know that Louis L’Amour wrote these Hopalong Cassidy Western adventure tales.
Louis L’Amour’s Western books have set the Gold Standard for Western fiction stories. There simply is no other Western fiction writer whose work has impacted the imagination of modern society as has Louis L’Amour . He had a unique talent for giving his readers a realistic vignette of the American West and its cast of interesting, wild and sometimes woolly characters. L’Amour flavored his stories with historical facts and sometimes, historical figures, with occasional historical settings and/or events. He was also the master at painting the Western scenes as accurately as any artist.
There have been many writers of Western fiction over the years but none can compare to the Dean of Western Fiction, Louis L’Amour. Even Zane Grey, that master storyteller of romantic Western adventure, can’t compete with the factual, riveting tales of Old West adventure found in a Louis L’Amour tale. He understood the art of writing western fiction better than anyone.
No doubt the favorite of all the tales L’Amour wrote, were the The Sackett series.
He begins these stories with a book that takes the reader all the way back to colonial times. The reader comes away from one of these stories realizing that he was reading about characters with a solid pedigree, in terms of being a prototype of the original settlers of the frontiers of America. Of course, there is some legitimate dispute as to which particular books were the best. Some would argue that his best work was in fact, not written as a novel, but rather the novelization of a script of the movie How the West Was Won. That epic movie was a 5-part series. L’Amour was chosen to do the novelization of that movie. So, perhaps they are right.
Louis L’Amour wrote more than Western fiction, though Western fiction is what he is best known for writing. He also wrote other interesting, good stories. Once, when asked what it took to be a good writer he replied that he good fiction writer just needed to “tell a good tale.” L’Amour clearly understood w how to do that and proved it when he wrote the story Last of the Breed. This was one of his best, and ironically, was set in modern times. L’Amour placed a Native American downed pilot in a frigid, hostile, Russian environment. He then utilized his many skills and talents as a writer to demonstrate the rugged spirit of all the pioneers who settled the West, in this Native American. The hero is, typical of the L’Amour protagonists, strong, self-reliant, courageous, virtuous, dangerous, and skilled in the one thing that every pioneer needed: survival.
For an excellent article on The Dean of Western Fiction, check out this blog post at the Western Word Slinger