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The Shootist

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  1,003 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
This is the all-time classic novel chosen by the Western Writers of America as one of the best western novels ever wrttten. It is also the inspiration for John Wayne's last great starring role--the acclaimed 1976 film, "The Shootist" This special commemorative edition includes a brand new introduction by the author's son, Miles Swarthout, in which he talks about his father ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 215 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Berkley (first published 1975)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Richard Vialet
John Bernard Books has found out he has terminal prostate cancer.

Books is an aging but notorious gunman, who is known across the frontier for being dangerously quick on the draw, for loving women, and for killing over thirty men. So it comes to his dismay that he is destined to die an undignified and unremarkable death, taken down by a disease in his crotch. He doesn't have long to live and pretty soon news of his condition spreads around town. But J.B. Books is determined to die with some sembl
...more
Jim
Nov 24, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, western, 1audio
Decades ago, I saw the John Wayne movie of the same name & really liked it, so thought the audio book would be decent. It wasn't, it was freaking awesome! Horrible, depressing, awfully realistic, & yet somehow inspiring. If you saw the movie, know that you saw a cleaned up, pale Hollywood version. Much is the same, but Swarthout's descriptions are intense & a little too detailed at times, but extremely moving.

The book takes place just after Queen Victoria dies & Books rides into
...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wayne Barrett

The date is 1901, the turn of the century and John Bernard Books is one of the last of the great gunmen. Being one of the deadliest shootists of the old west, Books succeeded in outliving most, if not all, of the other notorious gunslingers. But at the age of 51 he finally met his match, and it didn't come in the form of lead.

Upon examination from an old doctor acquaintance that had previously removed a slug from his stomach, Books discovers that his days are numbered and it is nothing that the
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 20, 2012 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western
I got to know about this book from the movie (staring John Wayne). If that's also your knowledge of the story all you really have is a sort of general outline of the story. It's also an outline that leads you to a different destination than the story in the novel will.

This is another book where I find myself hesitant to say things such as "I like it", or "I enjoyed it" as it is a dark and even sad story with few bright corners. I suppose it might be best here to say what's different from the mov
...more
Edward Erdelac
I'm afraid the Don Siegel John Wayne movie colored my enjoyment of this a bit as well. It's superbly written, but awfully cynical compared to the uplifting movie. Books is the same man as the Duke portrays, but Gillom is extremely different - I didn't care for him at all in the novel version, and the ending bleeds a star off my rating.
Sam Sattler
Nov 02, 2016 Sam Sattler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western, audiobook
I have only read two Glendon Swarthout novels (The Shootist and The Homesman), but, as it turns out, they are two of my favorite books and both were made into favorite movies of mine. Swarthout, who died in 1992 at age 74, had a special talent for writing the kind of western novel that told its story by getting deeply into the heads of its characters. His westerns were not short on gunplay and the like, but Swarthout’s focus was always on what motivated his characters to be the people they were ...more
Željko Obrenović
Jan 11, 2016 Željko Obrenović rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
Poslednji dani matorog revolveraša.
Victor Drax
Sep 29, 2014 Victor Drax rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es cierto el cliché: Si vas a leer un libro de western, que sea este.

Una historia triste, una leyenda en su ocaso, una prosa hermosa.
Kim
Apr 05, 2017 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whoa how have I never read this? I couldn't put it down.

Books is a great character.
Phillip
Feb 04, 2017 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it. If you enjoy Westerns, read it. If you enjoy compelling narratives and dialogue, read it. If you enjoy great literature, read it. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked up this novel. I've had it on my shelf for over three years, and certainly intended to get to it in due course, but I was in no rush considering I have about 147 other westerns on my "to read" shelf as well. I've always felt that True Grit, by Charles Portis, transcended the "Western" novel, and indee ...more
Jonathan Dunsky
Sep 09, 2016 Jonathan Dunsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Bernard Books is one of the last great shootists of the old west. He has survived countless gunfights. He has killed over thirty men. He is famous, or infamous, for his skills with a gun. But now Books is facing an enemy the likes of which he has never encountered.

It is 1901, and Books is fifty-one years old. He rides for nine days to El Paso in search of a doctor who once cut a bullet out of him. The reason is that Books is hurting bad. A pain has settled in his lower back and groin. He wa
...more
C. Patrick
Aug 27, 2015 C. Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It quickly became clear why this novel ranks so high on Western genre lists. Mr. Swarthout transports the reader to 1901 El Paso, and all the telltales of modernity imposing itself upon the West frames his story about a gunfighter who is himself an anachronism, and the last of his breed. He is out of time, adrift, and unhonored, but remains true to his life's terrible purpose of carrying out judgment against bad men. The reader shares J. B. Books' confinement to a quaint boardinghouse room, and ...more
David Berardelli
Oct 07, 2013 David Berardelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story probes the mind of a dying man. In this case, the man in question is a notorious gunman who has discovered he has reached the final stages of a fatal disease. The story deals with his own personal "last stand," as he faces his rapidly approaching death on his own terms. Thought-provoking and dark, the book is well-written and suspenseful, with finely drawn characters. More detailed than the 1976 film, the story depicts the character and the inner workings of the western killer, fleshi ...more
Joe  Noir
This is an outstanding novel about true courage.
Miles Swarthout
Mar 24, 2014 Miles Swarthout rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Shootist was the winner of the 1975 Spur Award from the Western Writers of America as the Best Western Novel of that year. In a recent 60th anniversary poll among its expert members, the Western Writers also ranked The Shootist #4 among the best Western novels ever written. This novel was also quickly made in 1976 into one of John Wayne's very best Westerns, as well as being Duke's last film.

The Shootist is John Bernard Books, a man of principle and the only surviving gunfighter in a vanish
...more
Adam Dague
Mar 19, 2017 Adam Dague rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Good short read, about a gunslinger's final days.
Ian
Mar 06, 2017 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poignant and sad, but very well written.
The Cannibal
Oct 24, 2015 The Cannibal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
J.B Books est une fine gâchette, un tireur émérite, le roi du six-coups… Pas de chance, c’est justement du côté de son six-coups que ça ne tourne plus rond. Le truc est enrayé, le canon fichu, foutu…

Notre tireur ne tirera plus les dames avec sa Chose car le cancer de la prostate lui ronge les entrailles. Malgré tout, il veut rester digne.

Nous sommes en 1901, la reine Victoria a cassé sa pipe en Angleterre et nos derniers survivants de la Conquête de l’Ouest commencent à sentir la naphtaline. Le
...more
Lawrence FitzGerald
Dec 05, 2013 Lawrence FitzGerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970-s, western
Never saw the movie.

Good, serviceable prose. Good story. Lots of unlikable characters. Other reviewers have outlined the story.

More length could have been usefully employed in characterization. Predictable.

Ok, let's take predictable first. Authors need to foreshadow to eliminate those "Perry Mason moments" where the story turns on shit you never knew about. Swarthout foreshadows in a fairly narrow way that lets the reader guess the ending a little too easily.

The gunman's landlady sees the gunm
...more
Paul
Jul 22, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
" He thought: Oh, I have fed on honey-dew. On wine and whiskey and champagne and the tender white meat of women and fine clothes and the respect of strong men and the fear of weak and the turn of a card and good horses and the crisp of greenbacks and the cool of mornings and all the elbow room that God or man could ask for. I have had high times. But the best times of all were afterward, just afterward, with the gun warm in my hand, the bite of smoke in my nose, the taste of death on my tongue, ...more
Bill
Jan 31, 2014 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not know the classic John Wayne movie was based on a novel until my colleague Rich Heldenfels let me borrow the book. I always thought that the Duke knew he was dying of cancer when he made the film and that it had been written with that in mind. It turns out I was wrong. Wayne didn't even have cancer at the time of production. In any case, it was a pleasure to read this book. I couldn't help but seeing John Wayne and Lauren Bacall in my mind, even though their characters are younger in th ...more
Christopher
If all you know is Don Siegel's 1976 film, starring John Wayne, then you don't really know "The Shootist." While I liked that film (enough, anyways), and was especially charmed by Wayne's final screen performance (he died 3 years later), the book tells a much more powerful elegiac tale of a man on his way out, both as a living creature and as a breed of man. J.B. Books is a notorious gunman, or "shootist," who comes to El Paso in 1901 to see a doctor who once saved him from certain death after a ...more
Clarence Tinklebottom
This book is a trick bag. On the one hand, it is very much like the movie starring John Wayne; the dialogue is mostly verbatim. On the other hand, the book is very different from the movie. So the trick is trying to divorce the movie from the book when the two are so similar yet so different. If you can manage that, it’s a terrific read. The prose is lean and spare. It doesn’t quite get into the heart of the main character, but it that’s one of its strengths. It gets you close enough to J.B. Boo ...more
G.R. Williamsom
Jul 14, 2016 G.R. Williamsom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout – A Review

Having watched the movie, The Shootist, many times, I decided to read the original book by Glendon Swarthout for a comparison. What a pleasure. It was all there, which proves why the movie was so well received by Western fans. The book is a captivating look at the winding down of the Amerian West and its icons.

The book entwines the gentle relationship that develops between the boarding house owner, Mrs. Rogers, and the dying gunfighter, J. B. Books, wi
...more
J
Feb 10, 2017 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ending differs from the movie (Gillom).
Laura
May 26, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Kiku
Shelves: adult-fiction
J. B. Books is an absolutely unforgettable character. He has always done everything on his own terms and that includes living out his last days exactly as he sees fit. He doesn't take any guff from anyone and he is a man to be feared, even as he is wasting away.

The cover says this book was "Chosen by the Western Writers of America as ONE OF THE BEST WESTERN NOVELS EVER WRITTEN" -- I can't think of any other western I've ever read, so I have no frame of reference to say whether I agree with that
...more
Matt
Jan 13, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a big fan of Loius L'Amour and other "traditional" Western authors for most of my life, but have only recently come to the somewhat "revisionist" works of Charles Portis and Glendon Swarthout. THE SHOOTIST, in particular, is a deeply cynical book with several highly unlikable characters and a final page that made me cringe. It's short, it's violent, it's upsetting, and yet also somewhat moving and over far too quickly.

I've never seen the John Wayne movie version, but reading online pl
...more
Jaime Contreras
Reading western novels is not a passion for me In truth, it is rather new to me but I am starting to get hooked. This classic is one that I just picked up a few months ago. Yes, the movie version did motivate me to do so. The book is rather poetic and quite moving in its tale of destiny, dignity and love of life - no matter what it involves. The character of John Books, a man who has made his life with his smoking guns is multi-dimensional adn emotes sympathy. It is his acceptance of his fate bu ...more
Riley Womack
Much like McCarthy's Blood Meridian and Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, "The Shootist" is a daring examination of the less-glamorous themes of the Old West. It is chilling, dark, and at some points just downright depressing. The West is dying, and so is the age of the gunfighter. J.B. Books is the last in a long line of famous gunslingers the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. And now, he is dying of prostate cancer. This leaves him three options: let the illness kill him, be his own executioner ...more
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175004
Glendon Fred Swarthout was an American writer. Some of his best known novels were made into films of the same title, Where the Boys Are, The Shootist and They Came To Cordura.

Also wrote under Glendon Fred Swarthout. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glendon_...
More about Glendon Swarthout...

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“I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, I won't be laid-a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same of them.” 6 likes
“He thought: Oh, I have fed on honey-dew. On wine and whiskey and champagne and the tender white meat of women and fine clothes and the respect of strong men and the fear of weak and the turn of a card and good horses and the crisp of greenbacks and the cool of mornings and all the elbow room that God or man could ask for. I have had high times. But the best times of all were afterward, just afterward, with the gun warm in my hand, the bite of smoke in my nose, the taste of death on my tongue, my heart high in my gullet, the danger past, and then the sweat, suddenly, and the nothingness, and the sweet clean feel of being born.” 5 likes
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