Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Big Sky” as Want to Read:
The Big Sky
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Big Sky

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  2,408 ratings  ·  209 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 blue ...more
Paperback, 367 pages
Published October 1st 1984 by Bantam Books (first published 1947)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Big Sky, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Leland Hamner 1830 to 1843. Best book I've read dealing with the mountain man/northern plains Indians era.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Scott Axsom
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
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 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
Wes Redfield
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.
The Big Sky is an adventure story, a tragedy and an homage to a time when there were places that belonged to everyone and to no one.

This book is not for everyone due to Guthrie's masterful use of early 19th century speech patterns and idioms. If you can get past that, you'll find you develop an ear for what the characters are saying. It's worth it.

The main character Boone Caudill is the archetype for the Western savage - born to be in the wild as part of it, not in conflict with it. He doesn't
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.
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
This is the mountain man novel of mountain man novels.
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.
I would give this novel a five star rating, but I was held back by the constant and vivid brutality and lack of emotion beyond anger and fear. Also, the N word is in frequent usage. Boone is an unsympathetic and uncaring protagonist, but his transformation from an ignorant farm boy into a mountain man is fascinating. Over a period of 13 years, he becomes more Indian than white. He is supported over this span of years by his sidekick Jim and his sensei Dick. Guthrie's power of description is beyo ...more
The Big Sky, so the edition of the book I owned told me, was part of a series of book written in the early twentieth century in the U.S. which made not a nickel, and was totally ignored, but some editor found it and said, damn, this is good stuff, better reissue this. Everyone in my family liked it. A sordid tale of life at a time when Kentucky was the Wild West, and drunk, smelly, fur-covered people with large knives complained the country was ruined now that a wagon train crossed the Mississip ...more
I wonder how I got to my age without having read A.B. Guthrie, Jr., whose series on westward expansion is not incompatible with the word "masterpiece." I listened to the audio book and narrator Kevin Foley is really brilliant as a reader. This series is from the late 40's. At that time, as a grade schooler, I was reading dozens of watered down kids books about the mountain men: Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith and the Rendezvous where all the trappers gathered once a year to drink, tell yarns and com ...more
Every once in a while I get a "wild hair" and want to read outside my normal reading habits. Reading about the American West, and the men and women who adapted to it's climate and function, seemed a perfect fit for something different.

The book begins in the year 1830.
At the age of seventeen, Boone left his home in Kentucky and set off for the west. Boone and his dad had gotten into a fight. Boone felt it was time for him to strike-out on his own, to make a life of his own. Boone joins a
Tio Stib
I discovered this book through the esteemed American author Wallace Stegner, who recommended it as one of the best books on the opening of the American West. I was not disappointed. “The Big Sky” is the first of a series of six books Guthrie wrote on the American West beginning around 1830 and continuing on to the mid twentieth century.

This first story begins with the push of the mountain men into the frontier of the Rocky Mountains and ends with the rapid demise of both Native Americans and th
"You can't beat God. For begi' picky. No, sir. If He catches you playin' cards or sayin' one swear word, or with your hard on a woman... it's hell with you forever and ever, amen. Even thinkin' is mighty dangerous. As a man thinketh, that's how he is, and to hell with him ag'in. Why you reckon He gave us a thinker, then? It's a sight better to be a dumb critter and enjoy yourself, not thinkin', than to think and burn for it."
"I reckon."
"God is some busybody. You'd think He had enough to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Shootist
  • English Creek
  • The Time It Never Rained
  • Deadwood
  • Mountain Man
  • The Ox-Bow Incident
  • The Searchers
  • Little Big Man
  • Northwest Passage
  • Hondo
  • Monte Walsh
  • The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology
  • Across the Wide Missouri
  • In the Rogue Blood
  • Riders of the Purple Sage
  • The Last Crossing
  • Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West
  • The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard
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....

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…