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Mountain Man

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  745 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Distributed by the University of Nebraska Press for the University of Idaho Press
A classic in American West literature and the inspiration for Robert Redford's portrayal in the classic film Jeremiah Johnson. Vardis Fisher has captured both the romantic idealism and harsh realism of the wilderness experience with this classic tale of the West.
Paperback, 351 pages
Published January 1st 1965 by Caxton Press
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Community Reviews

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Oct 04, 2007 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead
Tidbit: In 1972, 5 years after Fisher's death, Warner Bros. thought for some reason the book had become public domain and they made the movie for around $20 million dollars. Four weeks before release, someone in legal found mention of an Opal Fisher in Prescott, Idaho. They sent a man up. He knocked on her door and explained he was from a tiny independent production company that was interested in the rights to Mountain Man. Opal let the man take her out to a steak house. After she finished her c ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I read this book years ago and had forgotten it until someone here brought it up. I got the paperback version of the book back when the Robert Redford movie based on it came out.

I have in my "reading life" gone through periods when I'd read almost exclusively from one genre. This was read during one of my many historical fiction periods.

The book follows the life of Sam Minard a hunter/trapper, "Mountain Man" in the Rockies during the mid 1800s. The book is not only interesting in itself as a no
Feb 25, 2011 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: westerns
In MOUNTAIN MAN, Vardis Fisher fictionalizes the true accounts of John ‘Liver-eating’ Johnston (who was driven to revenge cannibalism against the Crow Indians after they slaughtered his squaw wife) and Jane Morgan (a frontier settler whose family was slaughtered on the Musselshell river).
Vardis tones-down the true story, replacing cannibalism with the insulting removal of a bodily part, and by making Johnston (renamed Sam Minard) an educated & cultured Easterner (he plays classical tunes on
Apr 11, 2008 Myrna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in authentic early west experiences
So enlightening about a true Mountain Man in the 1840's prior to the opening of the west. Sam Minnard is unusual in that he is educated and wise beyong his years. He is a mountain man by choice and hates to see the colonization of the wild west, with special disdain for Brigham Young and the Mormons. He has a wonderful if short marriage to a lovely Indian girl. . This book is so well researched and opened for me an understanding of those noble men who were so tough and resiliant .Little wonder t ...more
Ralph Carlson
Oct 21, 2014 Ralph Carlson rated it it was amazing
I have no words to say about this FANTASTIC book. They just won't come. I was greatly moved after reading the last word. I may even wait a few weeks and read it again.
Ben Crandell
Jun 09, 2013 Ben Crandell rated it really liked it
I have long been a fan of the movie 'Jeremiah Johnson'(Robert Redford). My dream growing up was to be a mountain man like that..(still is). This book is what inspired the film. And even though I love the movie - the book is better! Vardis Fisher writes very well, and it seems like he reveals a brutal truth about the relationships between whites and the native tribes that is glossed over in movies. I was transported to the wilderness as I read this book. It has a passion for the wilderness that I ...more
Aug 21, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Aquel era un territorio para hombres, no para muchachos altos". Absorbente la lectura de Mountain Man, de Vardis Fisher. Más primitivo que el estilizado y noble Jeremiah Johnson del cine. Narrada desde el Mountain Man, es decir, con racismo, misoginia y fanfarronería, y también libre, sin leyes, sin reglas, sin corrección política, una vida salvaje y dura. Para mí, la mejor novela hasta ahora de la colección Frontera.
May 24, 2011 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was in high school but had to add it to my goodreads shelf. Anybody who saw the movie Jeremiah Johnson will absolutely love Fisher's novel. The amount of detail in this book really transports you into the world of the mountain man. After all of these years I still remember the descriptions of food and everyday practices the protagonist goes through. But the book is so much more than that. It is about a man who lives in an untamed world, far from any comforts or civilizati ...more
Raro de Concurso
Después de leer "Bajo Cielos Inmensos" de la misma colección ("Frontera" de Valdemar) el listón estaba realmente alto. Y aunque "El Trampero" tiene algunas cosas que chirrían (ese Sam Minard casi perfecto, esas descripciones algo infantiles de la naturaleza), en general, se ha quedado casi a a la altura de aquel. Un escalón por debajo, pero siendo un libro extraordinario para conocer la vida en ese rincón de norteamérica en ese tiempo concreto.
También es un alegato a la naturaleza, al vive y dej
May 09, 2015 Jade rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A meticulously detailed read about life as a mountain man. It is an inspiration for any outdoors men/women. For those not so thrilled by life outdoors, this book clearly puts into perspective why outdoor enthusiasts love to be...outside. Sam, the main character, has depth and culture but lives a simple solitary life roaming the mountains. It is a treat to be able to read the internal conversations he has with himself as he faces hardships, moral dilemmas, and the fight to survive. But we are als ...more
Aug 25, 2016 K rated it liked it
Having been a fan of the film, Jeremiah Johnson since it was released, I was curious about the two books on which it was based. I still haven't read the second, The Crow Killer, but feel little need to now.
I was hoping to like this novel more than I did. I realize now how loosely the film mirrored this story and for good reason. Although the plot is fine, the author loses any momentum he builds through repetition-- going on and on describing the unspoiled beauty of the wilderness territories pr
Aug 07, 2009 Joseph rated it liked it
So moved was I by my recent trip out west(Montana,Wyoming,Utah and South Dakota), that I decided to break with my usual habit of reading classic authors and take a look at something a little different.
After all, I have always been fascinated by both Native Americans and the mountain men who got to know them, and to a large degree the history of the West is intertwined with the history of those two groups.I chose Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher as a way to get started.

And it was, although the boo
Mar 18, 2011 Tamra rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The movie, "Jeremiah Johnson" was loosely based off of this book & the book is way, way better than the movie! Whoever chose Robert Redford with his pretty little face and shiny blond hair to play the "Mountain Man" was obviously not interested in staying true to the book!

Here's the thing about this book, way too much detail about what and how he ate. Although when we have a natural disaster here I will be fully prepared and 100% knowledgeable in matters of how to gut a deer, buffalo and man
Mar 24, 2016 stellajames rated it it was amazing
I am looking for a hardcover edition of this book. This is the story of Jeremiah Johnston (his real name has a 't' in it). It's a beautiful yet brutal book. I can't recommend it enough.

This book will show you the beauty of the western mountains as if you were here, taking you into the lives of the mountain men and indigenous peoples in a beautiful story of one young mountain man's life. You will live the awesomeness and terrors of this time in this place.

If you travel through Wyoming, you will s
Aug 05, 2013 Shawn rated it liked it
There are a few chapters in this book that I would give five stars to, but as a whole it felt rather slow. Expectations may have hindered my ability to love the novel. I expected a fast paced story and a lot of action because it was a western, but something else entirely was delivered. It felt less like a story and more like a character study. As a character study it felt like it could have been 200 pages shorter. I received a great many lessons on the way you could cook elk roast and berries, m ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt, Vardis Fisher is an excellent writer. I read this novel years after seeing the movie based on it, "Jeremiah Johnson." As usual, I prefer the book to the movie. Fisher develops his characters in a very believable way. The story line is smooth and keeps you guessing. In the beginning, he poses a plot question that keeps you turning the pages to find the answer. His attention to detail and the historic facts are very accurate. Reading this book inspired me to read another Fisher bo ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Daniel rated it it was amazing
This book gave great insight on the lifestyle and adventures of these aptly named "mountain men". I knew little about them, and how these pioneering men helped open up the west to emigration from the east. Following the fictional character Sam Minard, who is based off of a real mountain man, I was enraptured in the story and life of a time gone by.
Nov 26, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
OK, maybe I'm weird, but I loved this book. It completely immerses you in the world of the mountain man, and in between the twists and turns of the plot, just learning how basic things get done in a wilderness environment is spellbinding in itself.
Cathy P
Oct 12, 2014 Cathy P rated it really liked it
One of the sources for the movie, Jeremiah Johnson. It depicts the harsh realities of the old American West, juxtaposed with the freedom from the constraints of society that motivated the mountain men to roam these areas. A great story, well told.
May 29, 2016 Shawn rated it really liked it
I found this book by accident after having seen the movie The Revenant, which I liked and searched for a similar story to read, and came across Mountain Man.

I have only read a couple of westerns before and didn't really get into them at all, the ones I read I found were poorly written and quite boring. But, after having read Mountain Man, my views have changed on western novels, Mountain Man was very well written and it kept me very interested throughout the story and left me wanting to continue
Kevin Taitz
Terrible editing takes you out of the story.

Spelling transcription issues abound. Great history woven into an exciting tale. Descriptions of nature get a little tiresome. Overall solid historical fiction.
Karen Shepard
Jul 21, 2016 Karen Shepard rated it it was amazing
All time favorite book. This book mixes tragedy, death and beauty in a way that is at first uncomfortable but the reader becomes reconciled with it and understands the connections that exist between the pieces.
Feb 19, 2016 Zardoz rated it liked it
A decent read and the best parts of it were used in the movie Jeremiah Johnson.
Overall I found the movie to be better than the book which doesn't happen very often.
The Mountain Men are put on a very high pestidal here which is unfair to how the Indians are portrayed. I've no doubt that that the white trappers were just as cruel to the Indians as they were to them.
A lot of this can be explained by the fact that this book was written in the 60's. So of course the novel doesn't meet modern P.C. st
John Hansen
Feb 01, 2016 John Hansen rated it really liked it
Maintained my interest for the most part but did tire of the seemingly redundant and laborious description. Fisher's numerous references to classical musical by the main protagonist were distracting to me.
John Latimer
Jan 20, 2016 John Latimer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Makes one long for another time

Well written story of mountain men and their story of life and death. A glimpse back to another time in our country's history.
Franklin Mtvalsky
Nov 06, 2015 Franklin Mtvalsky rated it really liked it
Shelves: fall-2015
I liked almost everything about this book. I bought it when I went up to Colorado and enjoyed reading about how those people had to live and what they had to do to survive
Russ Upton
Jan 29, 2016 Russ Upton rated it it was amazing
This is by far one of my favorite books. When I discuss books with friends who read this book always comes to the top of my mind to share.
Jefferson Coombs
I came so close to giving this book 5 stars, the main reason I didn't was the dialogue was a bit hard to follow because he wrote it spelled out in accents. The final chapters are very emotionally charged. The book is very different from the movie. Very good read.
Betty Jenkins
May 29, 2016 Betty Jenkins rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good mountain man book. Some parts were pretty cheesy. But still pretty good.
Becky Sharp
Feb 18, 2015 Becky Sharp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una maravilla de comienzo a fin. Un canto a la libertad, a un mundo que ya no volverá, a la naturaleza, a la vida por encima de todo.
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Good book that girls should love 1 12 Jun 16, 2011 06:17PM  
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Vardis Alvero Fisher was a writer best known for his popular historical novels of the Old West. He also wrote the monumental 12-volume Testament of Man (1943–1960) series of novels, depicting the history of humans from cave to civilization. It was considered controversial because of his portrayal of religion, especially the Judeo-Christian tradition, emphasis on sexuality, and conclusions about an ...more
More about Vardis Fisher...

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“If you loved the world the Creator had made for you, you did not shut out the blue heaven and its lights, or lie in foul air in a stuffy room, when in a bed outside you could smell the morning and watch its mother-of-pearl light softly touch the hills.” 1 likes
“A wife, he knew, was a huge armful of responsibility, and responsibility was the disease in man. But he was lonely, and twice as lonely after leaving the woman by the graves.” 0 likes
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