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The Big Sky (The Big Sky #1)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  2,753 Ratings  ·  243 Reviews
The Big Sky is the first of A.B. Guthrie's epic adventure novels of America's vast frontier. It is a story as great as the land that inspired it, sweeping westward from Kentucky, up the Missouri River into Indian Country. Towering above the novel is Guthrie's unforgettable hero, Boone Caudill, a true mountain man driven by a raging hunger for life and a longing for the blu ...more
Published March 1st 1992 by Mariner Books (first published 1947)
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Leland Hamner 1830 to 1843. Best book I've read dealing with the mountain man/northern plains Indians era.
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Community Reviews

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Scott Axsom
Sep 26, 2012 Scott Axsom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I particularly love fiction when the allegory and the story march hand-in-hand to a natural conclusion. I don’t need to be spoon-fed, I just relish when the character and the polemic arrive at similar points, after similar journeys. Sounds simple… but, not so much.

“The Big Sky” is a beautifully written novel that takes some getting used to. It’s about the mountain men of the West during the years 1835-43 and A.B. Guthrie’s style is a perfect fit for the era and the people, whom he so lyrically d
This book is a masterpiece, although it was Guthrie's second book, The Way West, that won the Pulitzer Prize. It was written in 1947 but doesn't get read much any more. A shame.

Guthrie was appalled by the Western cowboy books that were being written. He wanted to write a novel that followed some of the first men to live in the harsh, lonely environment of the West. His work was carefully drawn from historical sources, journals, diaries, and numerous trips to the area. The characters in The Big S
Jun 22, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to go to big sky country and I want to do it on horseback and I want to trap beaver and I want to hunt buffalo for food and shelter and I want to trade with Native Americans and I want it to be the 1800's...but that aint gonna happen so I just went ahead and read this book.
Mike (the Paladin)
This is a "classic" historical fiction of the western expansion. Boone flees his vengeful "Pa" and heads west. Things do not go smoothly.

Along the way he meets Jim and the two of them set out. Along the way we will share with them a realistic look at everything from Keel-boats to foot travel. We'll hunt and we'll fight. We'll meet a range of characters. We'll learn to live as and look at the land as the "Indians" do.

Yes the native Americans are called Indians here. I want to include in this revi
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 06, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Can Tolerate Dark Themes, Dark Characters and Plenty of Violence
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
I tried--truly I did. Guthrie is a Pulitzer Prize winner and this has been called his masterpiece. It's not badly written by any means, quite the contrary, but this is one of those books I find way too dark in terms of the characters--and I say that as someone that loved The Color Purple and The Kite Runner. But then, both those novels have very appealing protagonists you can root for, here the major character never seemed anything but despicable, not simply just a scoundrel like in Little Big M ...more
Jul 08, 2016 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Big Sky is a harsh coming of age story set in the 1800's, when fur trading paid the bills. The protagonist, Boone Caudill, runs away from home and eventually grows into a seasoned mountain man. Boone's journey is littered with blood and bodies. This is not a happy or sad tale, but rather a matter of fact telling of frontier life.

Readers considering The Big Sky should keep in mind that this book was published in 1947, so racial epithets are present throughout. The words: "nigger," "squaw," a
Simone Subliminalpop
“Il grande cielo” è un romanzo western, impossibile affermare il contrario, ma anche parecchio atipico nel suo genere (che non amo particolarmente), spingendosi molto oltre quella frontiera inseguita con coraggio e testardaggine dai suoi protagonisti.
Una storia d'avventura certo, che non si limita però solo alle vicende di cacciatori, indiani e coloni. Il tempo e come il suo passare cambi le persone e i luoghi, prima di tutto, o ancora la ricerca di una propria dimensione nel mondo (o libertà c
Adrian White
Jun 13, 2016 Adrian White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute classic of the American West. A flawed hero; an epic quest; a doomed love story. Violence, escape, redemption, survival. Without this book there would there could be no Lonesome Dove and no Blood Meridian - it really is that key a book. And looking back, it is the natural successor to the first half of Huckleberry Finn. No one book will ever capture the whole of what it is to be a part of the North American continent but this key novel comes as close as any that you care to name.
Sep 24, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
Before Lonesome Dove and All the Pretty Horses, A. B. Guthrie's The Big Sky was the go-to novel of the American West. Those who want a gritty and realistic portrayal of the characters and environment that made up the frontier at that time need look no further. Sink your teeth into The Big Sky and at the end when you hunger for more, pick up book two, The Way West, which won Guthrie the Pulitzer Prize.
Sep 27, 2008 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story appeals to my sense of adventure, my love of open country and my affection for a time and people now gone.

The opening is a bit harsh for some readers and the end left me troubled for a time. I am often visited by the beautiful imagery of this book and its many lessons.
Jul 06, 2008 Cradymc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps the best western that I've ever read. From the wonderfully flawed protagonist to the sprawling landscapes and an incredible story, "The Big Sky" is without a doubt one of the great forgotten novels.
Feb 16, 2009 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-america
Amazing, incredible, beautiful book. Guthrie's images are stunning, his characters authentic and absorbing.... the book just incredibly powerful. One of the greatest books I have ever read!
Steve O'Keefe
This book appeals so much to my (entirely unrealistic) ideas of how much I would have enjoyed pioneer life and exploring the American frontier. Nearly the entire novel takes place outside in the wide open spaces of the uninhabited (by white folks, anyways) territories in what would eventually become the western United States. The "mountain men" the story follows are simple in both their lifestyle and desires. They live amongst nothing but nature's majesty for the majority of the year, allowing t ...more
Jun 22, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE BIG SKY. (1947). A. B. Guthrie, Jr. ****.
Albert Bertram Guthrie tells the story of Boone Caudill, who is seventeen-years old when we first meet him. Boone is an unsettled young man who is just coming into his manhood. He is in trouble; he beat up on a neighbor boy in a fight and broke his jaw. Now the law is after him. On top of it all, he fiinally managed to stand up to his abusive father and whacked him so hard with a stick of firewood that he thought he might have killed him. Boone has n
Jan 05, 2014 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is certainly not a book for a modern audience. It was written in the mid-1940s and utilizes the N-word on nearly every page! It surprised me the author found the word so necessary when only a few of the characters were black. It is a very unique telling of mountain men and their interaction with Indian Tribes during the 1830s and 1840s. The language is difficult to follow at times. Both the dialogue and the narrations follow a rustic homespun jargon. The plot and flow of the story often get ...more
Robin Friedman
Jun 06, 2016 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loneliness And Freedom In The Old West

The genre of the American Western has had a long history through dime and pulp novels and magazines, radio, television, and film, and novels and stories. Although much of the genre deals in stereotypes, many Westerns are thoughtful and imaginative, including A.B. Guthrie's 1947 novel, "The Big Sky". Guthrie (1901 -- 1991) wrote a series of six novels on the settlement of the Montana territory of which "The Big Sky" is the first chronologically and in the ord
Wes Redfield
Mar 25, 2015 Wes Redfield rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A debut novel written in the vernacular gives a realistic view of the west before it was changed by pioneers and civilization. The principle character is a white savage who contributes to the destruction of what he loves. The author won a Pulitzer for his second novel, The Way West, although many believe The Big Sky is better. He also was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay Shane. I wonder if this book could be published in today's PC world.
Pam Walter
Jul 05, 2016 Pam Walter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Big Sky made me want to make that trip from the great plains to the Rocky mountains on horseback. I want to feel the evening chill come on and see the sunshine lying long on the grass. I want to smell the smoke of fires rising and bending and going off with the breeze. This is breathtaking prose. When someone writes with stardust, you just have to slow down and enjoy. Such is the style of A.B. Guthrie.

This is the story about a young man who leaves his home in western Kentucky and begins an a
Jul 18, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As good a look into the minds of the mountain men and indians of the 1830's and 1840's West (particularly northwest) as I have read. I read this book because it is the first book in a series of which the next book "The Way West" was a Pulitzer Prize winner. This is a novel but there is a lot of historical background in the text that gives the reader a clearer understanding of how people of that time thought.
Sep 03, 2015 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a masterfully written book with a simple, yet entertaining story-line. I am an active reader who enjoys taking notes and underlining and I can assure you, my copy was covered in blue up to the last page notating the beautifully structured sentences from this gifted author. As a fan of Lonesome Dove, I truly believed that to be the greatest sweeping Western fiction novel to date. However, about 100 pages into Big Sky, my perception and opinion quickly changed. In Big Sky, I was holding th ...more
Nov 12, 2008 Cameron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A.B. Guthrie. This trilogy was some of the best thoughts/writing about the west. Character driven, but in an old school way. Not as dense and Angle of Repose by Stegner, but just as good.
Bonnie Y
Apr 10, 2009 Bonnie Y rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this ages and ages ago when I was in college in the 60's.
I have always wanted to visit Montana's Big Sky Country, but I haven't gotten there yet.
Jan 20, 2009 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history or wilderness buffs
I'm rereading this book just for the joy of it. Makes me want to visit the "big sky" country of Montana. Great history of the western discoveries.
Steve Shilstone
Aug 22, 2010 Steve Shilstone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the mountain man novel of mountain man novels.
Janice Kohl
Jun 04, 2016 Janice Kohl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography about period of time in history and three great frontiersmen - Boone Caudill, Jim Deakins, and Dick Summers. Although, the story centers mainly on Boone Caudill, I learned most to love and appreciate Dick Summers and his experiences. And even though the story tends to be very long, I didn't want it to end. I liked reading it without being in a hurry to finish.

A.B. Guthrie, Jr. is very well known for his "timeless portrayal of the American West." and lived most of his life in
I was very much looking forward to reading A.B. Guthrie Jr.’s The Big Sky but came away disappointed. I cut my eyeteeth reading my dad’s 1950 Doubleday Book Club selections so I can generally overlook those dated phrases and ideas that turn off many younger readers. I couldn’t do it with The Big Sky perhaps because the protagonist, Boone Caudill, was such an unpleasant man.

In the early parts of the book, I assumed Dick Summers was a black man as he consistently referred to himself as “this nigg
Jul 27, 2014 Vic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was simply perusing the library shelves one day while in between reads when I pulled out a copy of The Big Sky, by A.B. Guthrie, Jr. Never heard of him, but I was intrigued that the forward was written by Wallace Stegner. I stood in the aisle and read some very high praise for Mr. Guthrie from a writer I admire. I thought, if Stegner likes him, why not see for myself?

The story follows the early years of a seventeen year old boy who leaves his family in Kentucky for the untamed west and the mou
Sherry H
I love a book that MOVES, and The Big Sky does just that. Set in 1830 through 1843, its hero set out from Kentucky as a 17-year old, heading West - away from a cruel and heavy-handed father, toward Injun country, toward self-sufficiency, toward a land and a vision dreamed of in his childish mind based on the glory stories of a beloved uncle.

But Boone Caudill is not a warm and fuzzy hero, and his journey and destination are harsher than his boyhood imaginings. He gains his manhood watching his co
This was ok and thus given a 2 star rating. The use of the N-word and GD was used so heavy throughout the book that it took away from the story. I understand that this was written awhile back, but the use of these two/three words tainted the entire story. I struggled with the main character and how dark his was. Looking back after listening to all 11 discs in this audio book I really do not like the main character and I think I stuck with the entire story hoping that he would change. The strengt ...more
Jun 11, 2015 Amy marked it as abandoned-forever  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western, audio-book
I'm going to have to abandon this one. The first part of the novel was interesting as Boon ran away from home, but now that he's traveling by boat with French trappers, it's become extremely boring (except for a slight detour to collect a scalp). I've spent the entire week listening with a wandering mind during my commute and during my noontime walk. When my library borrowing time expired this morning, I was frankly quite happy. I really wanted to love this, but onward to the next book I go.
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Play Book Tag: The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie - 3 stars 2 7 May 06, 2016 02:21PM  
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Alfred Bertram Guthrie, Jr. (January 13, 1901 – April 26, 1991) was an American novelist, screenwriter, historian, and literary historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction during 1950 for his novel The Way West. The author called himself "Bud" because he felt that Alfred Bertram was "a sissy name."

More about A.B. Guthrie Jr....

Other Books in the Series

The Big Sky (3 books)
  • La Route de l'Ouest (The Big Sky #2)
  • Dans un si beau pays (The Big Sky #3)

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“God must like to get off by Himself sometimes and caper. Must get mighty tiresome, keepin' tally on folks and gettin' the sun up and tuckin' it in bed and bringin' the rain on and all, and all the time actin' stiff and proper. That surely was it, God must like to throw Himself around some and be silly if He felt like it.” 2 likes
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