Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, the author of Terms of Endearment, is his long-awaited masterpiece, the major novel at last of the American West as it really was.
A love story, an adventure, an American epic, Lonesome Dove embraces all the West legend and fact, heroes and outlaws, whoeres and ladies, Indians and settlers in a novel that recreates the central American experience, the most enduring of our national myths.
Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life.
Agustus McCrae and W.F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding (or wanting to understand) each other's deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weaknesses, and not many of his own. He is obsessed with the dream of creating his own empire, and with the need to conceal a secret sorrow of his own. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough, redoubtable fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else.
Call's dream not only drags Gus along in its wake, but draws in a vast cast of characters:
љLorena, the whore with the proverbial heart of gold, whom Gus (and almost everyone else) loves, and who survives one of the most terrifying experiences any woman could have &
љElmira, the restless, reluctant wife of a small-time Arkansas sheriff, who runs away from the security of marriage to become part of the great Western adventure &
љBlue Duck, the sinister Indian renegade, one of the most frightening villains in American fiction, whose steely capacity for cruelty affects the lives of everyone in the book &
љNewt, the young cowboy for whom the long and dangerous journey from Texas to Montana is in fact a search for his own identity &
љJake, the dashing, womanizing ex-Ranger, a comrade-in-arms of Gus and Call, whose weakness leads him to an unexpected fate &
љJuly Johnson, husband of Elmira, whose love for her draws him out of his secure life into the wilderness, and turns him into a kind of hero &
Lonesome Dove sweeps from the Rio Grande (where Gus and Call acquire the cattle for their long drive by raiding the Mexicans) to the Montana highlands (where they find themselves besieged by the last, defiant remnants of an older West).
It is an epic of love, heroism, loyalty, honor, and betrayal faultlessly written, unfailingly dramatic. Lonesome Dove is the novel about the West that American literature and the American reader has long been waiting for.