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Lonesome Dove (Lonesome Dove #1)

4.46  ·  Rating Details ·  110,977 Ratings  ·  5,082 Reviews
A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America.

Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and
Mass Market Paperback, 945 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Pocket Books (first published 1985)
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Popular Answered Questions

Jason No. There isn't.

Blood Meridian is the typical answer to this question and while Blood Meridian is an exceptional novel, it isn't as personal or as…more
No. There isn't.

Blood Meridian is the typical answer to this question and while Blood Meridian is an exceptional novel, it isn't as personal or as grand as Lonesome Dove. Lonesome Dove is simply the best.

On a personal note, I do not believe Blood Meridian is Cormac McCarthy's best western. I would recommend All the Pretty Horses over Blood Meridian. It isn't a popular answer, but I thought I would share. (less)
Cynthia Yes, if you want to read them all, read Lonesome Dove first, then the rest in order. Lonesome Dove won the Pulitzer Prize and the other books aren't…moreYes, if you want to read them all, read Lonesome Dove first, then the rest in order. Lonesome Dove won the Pulitzer Prize and the other books aren't nearly as strong. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 04, 2013 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any human
I was only willing to read this book because a friend told me I had to. When I was thirty pages into it and complaining to him about being unable to handle any more discussion about horses and beans, he made me a bet: If I got to page 101 (out of 900, mind you) and I still didn't enjoy it, he'd take me out to dinner at any restaurant I wanted in New York City. If at page 101 I had warmed up to it, I had to finish. I don't think I made it past the 60th page before I knew I had "lost" the bet.

Mar 23, 2016 Kemper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favoritest books ever. In fact, put a gun to my head and tell me chose just one, and it’d be better than even money that Lonesome Dove would be what I’d name.

It has the bonus of not only being an incredible book but also having an excellent companion piece in the television mini-series based on it that is one of the great all-time fusions of print and film. I can’t read this without hearing the voices of Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Anjelica Huston, Chris Cooper, Danny Glov
Bill  Kerwin
Dec 19, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing

The account of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. This is a very long novel which is nevertheless always compelling. It contains memorable characters whose adventures are narrated in a deceptively straightforward style.

What impresses me most about this book is that the fates of the characters are neither cornily predictable nor deliberately surprising. The book's great length allows life to happen to them as it happens to all of us. We have the leisure to observe them carefully, and we are gl
Feb 04, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Absolutely everyone!

Hands Down my Favourite Book in 2014

First of all the physical; the book I see looking up at me from my coffee table. It looks worn, well thumbed, well read, pages and cover alike, beginning to curl up, and soiled by use. Well that and all the casual (I take books with me) acquaintances, to the one, they all had to pick it up, look it over. It may look well rode, but it still feels soft, warm and pliant in my hand. The stars twinkle up at me from the cover and I wish, I wish, I wish it wasn’t ov
Dan Schwent
Mar 19, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 14, 2015 Tressa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
Lonesome Dove is my favorite book of all time and, when asked, is what I consider to be the greatest American novel ever written. It was so engrossing and the characters so compelling and the adventures so entertaining, that I wanted to read it in one sitting. It's one of those reads that I envy others who have yet to read it.

Gus and Call are two of the most memorable characters in American fiction. They are the yin & yang of cowboys: one caring and comical, the other cold and unemotional.

Jul 16, 2010 tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The earth is mostly just a boneyard. But pretty in the sunlight.

During a recent trip to the local bookstore, a discount stack of Lonesome Dove caught my distracted eye. Picking up a copy, I randomly flipped through to read three separate passages. And like an amnesiac, I promptly forgot all about the books I sought to find in the first place. Because this here was the book I didn’t know I needed to read right now.

At its core is a simple enough story—an epic cattle drive, not long after the Civil
Dirk Grobbelaar

Gus and his pig were aggravating company.

When I finished this, yesterday evening, I was filled by a tremendous sense of melancholy, not just because the book was finally finished, but because of its introspective nature. By far one of the best I’ve read, Lonesome Dove is a dense book in more ways than one, and runs a gamut of emotions that will leave you feeling giddy. Hysterically funny the one moment, heartbreakingly tragic the next, it alternately delighted and depressed me to an extent I hav
Feb 16, 2013 Maciek rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who enjoys reading
Recommended to Maciek by: Tressa
All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.

This is an epic novel, and the quotation by T.K. Whipple which I provided above is indeed an appropriate epigraph. It's interesting that Larry McMurty originally devised it as a
Lynne King
When Augustus came out of the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake – not a very big one. It had probably just been crawling around looking for shade when it ran into pigs. They were having a fine tug-of-war with it, and its rattling days were over. The sow had it by the neck, and the shoat had the tail.

I’ve had a first here in that I’ve done a complete U-turn on a book. I had serious doubts from page 1, especially when I read the above opening paragraph. Rattlesnakes, sows and young p
Jun 25, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thanks, Broadway street-book dude. Cowboys telling fart jokes and falling in love with sullen whores are EXACTLY what I want to read about right now.

Warning: This book will destroy you. I have never been so completely and utterly decimated by a novel. I don't need a book club; I need a support group.

On a side note: Maybe these are fightin' words, and I only ever read Blood Meridian, but I'll take McMurtry over McCarthy any day of the week. No Faulknerian pretensions, no torture-porn, no dogged
Jan 09, 2008 Charissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
This book completely ravaged me. I didn't expect to fall in love with Gus, but dammit if I did anyway. McMurtry dragged me through every mud hole, snake pit, camp fire and stampede his characters endured. I felt every cactus prickle and tasted the beans and bad coffee. Who knew I could love the West so damn much?

Next to The Three Musketeers, this is the best man-love story around. Gus and Call are totally OTP 4evah.

I won't spoiler the story for anyone here... but there's a place in the book wher
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All the Stars
“If you only read one western novel in your life, read Lonesome Dove.” – USA Today
It’s right there in bold print, on the back cover. And while I’m fairly new to the genre, I would wholeheartedly agree. This is a quintessential American tale. Really what’s more American, than striking out into parts unknown to make a fresh go of it? This country was founded by explorers, thrill-seekers, risk-takers; it’s in our DNA, our blood & bones. And what better place to tackle, than that
Sep 15, 2016 Tim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, wild-west
Quite simply a stunning achievement, the most compelling novel I’ve read all year. The relationship between the two old Texas Rangers, Call and McCrae has to be one of my favourites in all literature. Both are brilliant character studies of archetypal men – Cal, infuriatingly silent, emotionally shy, almost retarded in his refusal to allow feeling, McCrae, prone to excess drinking, lazy and vain about his scant erudition. The bond they share becomes more and more moving as the novel progresses. ...more
Aug 19, 2011 smetchie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who knows how to read
Recommended to smetchie by: Janet
Now this is a book. It's so good it hurts.
The snake part!?! Holy crap! I'm not aware of having experienced a more vivid moment in a book ever.
Everyone should read this book. EVERYONE! I don't give a goddamn that it's 900some pages and you already saw the miniseries with Ricky Shroeder. You still have to read it. If you love to read and you haven't read this book then you're cheating the fuck out of yourself. GET ON IT!
Oct 10, 2010 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: born on a train
Recommended to Mariel by: two characters in search of a country song
My ex gave me this book with written notes in the margins of the book. He started reading it, anyway, and gave up. I've read that it is supposedly "slow" in the beginning, but I didn't feel that way. It's exactly the kind of directly into the psyche style of writing I crave the most (if the change in perspectives took time to get used to, ultimately it was complimentary of the other). I'm gonna have to buy a fresh copy... Okay, some people thought that The Wire was a slow burn and I never did. I ...more
Why is it that I always struggle to write a "review" for the books I love the most?

I fell in love with Lonesome Dove. Hard. I know this is a book I will revist many times in the future. Hell, it's the kind of books that make me want to have children just so I can read it to them!

It is magnificent, it is heartbreaking, uplifting, funny, inspirational, cruel. While telling a simple story and being surprisingly easy and fast to read, it is also profound and emotionally exhausting.
Lonesome Dove is a
This is a book worth reading. It's simple yet complex, it's beautiful but cruel, and it's filled with the type of characters that are real and flawed and human. There's a bleakness to this book that is interspersed with life and humor at the most necessary of times, which was surprising and delightful. It was long, and I traveled far in this book, but now that I'm done with it, I kinda just have the urge to cry because I'm not sure I wanted it to be over.

I kinda loved this book.

Gus and Call ar
May 10, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2015

I will play the parrot and repeat what other readers noticed when coming across this one:


“If you only read one western novel in your life, read Lonesome Dove.” – USA Today

I have myself read more than one western novel, some simplistic, some literary gems (“Angle of Repose”, “Butcher’s Crossing”), but there is something special about Larry McMurtry, a combination of epic adventure, personal tragedy, humour and philosophy that entertains and disturbs, that touches both the squalor, the danger
Oct 04, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading: but McMurtry asks way too much. This epic tale spans thousands of miles from the Old West (Texas) to the as-of-yet-up-for-grabs land of Montana. The characters are endearing; these are the premiere and authentic cowboys. The best stuff here is the campfire philosophy of Gus, and his incredible relationship with the solemn Woodrow Call is the stuff that legend is made of. The book refuses to end though, and despite the authenticity of this far away world (it is the Lord of the Ri ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Sunday rated it it was amazing
O BABY BABY. I went crazy for this book; it changed my entire vernacular. Penises are now referred to only as "old carrots," and having sex is only called "poking." Not to mention the fact that I now wear chaps and drink nothing but whisky. The cowboy life is my dream fantasy life; even with all of the injuries and general poor health. Never brush your teeth! Prostitution as a fine career endeavor!

One of my favorite epics; the characters are beautifully developed even in their own simplicity. O
Apr 21, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“What’s that you’re reading?”

“Erm, it’s a book about some cowboys who move some cows across a country.”

“Looks like you’ve got a bit of a sweat on, you alright?”

“Yeah, it’s just taking a fair amount of effort to hold up this book. It’s nearly 1000 pages long!”

“So let me get this straight, you’re reading a book about a cattle drive that is longer than the phonebook?”

“Yeah, that about sums it up.”

“Is that why you’ve got tears in your eyes? Bored to death?”

“Not in the least, it’s because the j
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
4.5 stars

Lonesome Dove is a book celebrating the memory of a breed which died out long ago, who had been dying out a while before the events of the book even started. A purely character-driven story, it shows both the joys and the miseries of the old west, along with the heroes and villains who were around when it first began. They became respected or respectively feared as legends before their deaths, and despite the time passing, were forever restless.

Augustus McRae is the heart of the novel
Sep 08, 2008 Monica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with a little time on their hands.
Recommended to Monica by: EW New Classics List
Just finished this beast. All 945 pages of it. I'm trying hard not to overstate my love for this book since I just finished it and I suppose its possible that some of the shine could rub off of this in the coming months. But for right now, Lonesome Dove is the best thing I've read all year and it might be my favorite book of all time. Okay, so I'm not trying hard enough apparently.

Having read Last Picture Show and now this, I can say that I am totally enamored of McMurtry's style. His deepest gi

Read Lonesome Dove the book. Transport yourself to Lonesome Dove the town. Taste the dry dust and sand of its streets. Meet its inhabitants. Respect Augustus McCrae and Captain Call, legends of the Texas Rangers. Shake the callused hand of cowboys with cowboy names, such as Dishwater Boggett, Deets and Lippy. See them dismount from their horses and walk bowlegged to the saloon for their evening respite of drinking, gambling, and whoring. Smell the dried sweat on every man's collar and the reek o
May 24, 2015 Camie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us all the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived , we dream."
TK Whipple, Study Out The Land

An epic tale and a great adventure, Lonesome Dove is the name of the dusty Texas town from where Gus McRae and Woodrow Call , ex Texas Range
Sep 19, 2015 Ctgt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, western

If you haven't read this you need

Don't let the "western" theme scare you. Yes it's set in the west. Yes it involves a cattle drive. But these facts are the just framework for a story of life and death, love and loss and friendship.
Unforgettable characters and moments that will stick with me for a long time.


Nov 23, 2012 Hanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely everyone (adults)
Recommended to Hanne by: Next Best Book Club

This book definitely earned its place as an epic classic.
It is that good! And it only keeps getting better and better and better and better. Really.

The first thing the author manages brilliantly is recreating the atmosphere and the feel of that period, so that even I as a 21st century European can transfer myself into 19th century America. I can imagine what it looks like, how it feels and how people go about their business.
This book is not a western. Or at least not what i associate with wester
Mikey B.
Feb 03, 2016 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is an overwhelming epic story. It’s about two men who organize a cattle drive from the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexican border all the way up to Montana to be the first to set up a ranch there. I suspect the time period to be the 1880’s.

The characters in the book are delineated in a most eloquent fashion. I love the way the author puts us inside the minds of his characters presenting their perspective as they perceive it. In all their different ways, from Gus McCrae, the main character, to t
Richard Vialet
“Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back.”
I’ve been a big fan of Western movies for a while, but I’ve only recently started reading Western fiction. This Pulitzer prize-winning epic adventure is considered by many to be one of, if not the best novel in the genre. Now that I’ve finished it, it would be hard to argue with that.

The book follows aging best friends Woodrow Call and Augustus “Gus” McCrae, who were once famous Texas Rangers that fought Indians on the frontier,
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Catching up on Cl...: Lonesome Dove - NO Spoilers 68 124 Dec 20, 2016 11:23AM  
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Tackling the Puli...: Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry, 1986) 5 24 Jul 20, 2016 10:25PM  
  • In This Our Life
  • The Way West
  • Andersonville
  • Scarlet Sister Mary
  • Guard of Honor
  • The Edge of Sadness
  • The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters
  • Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady
  • Journey in the Dark
  • The Town
  • Years of Grace
  • Tales of the South Pacific
  • The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford
  • The Store
  • Honey in the Horn
  • Advise and Consent (Advise and Consent, #1)
  • His Family
  • Lamb in His Bosom
Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.

Among many other accolades he was the co-winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006.

Larry McMurty was born in Wichita Falls Texas in 1936. His first published book Horseman, Pass By was
More about Larry McMurtry...

Other Books in the Series

Lonesome Dove (4 books)
  • Streets of Laredo
  • Dead Man's Walk
  • Comanche Moon

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“If you want one thing too much it’s likely to be a disappointment. The healthy way is to learn to like the everyday things, like soft beds and buttermilk—and feisty gentlemen.” 237 likes
“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” ~spoken by Augustus McCrae” 188 likes
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