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Dead Man's Walk (Lonesome Dove #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,273 Ratings  ·  337 Reviews
Dead Man's Walk is the first, extraordinary book in the epic Lonesome Dove tetralogy, in which Larry McMurtry breathed new life into the vanished American West and created two of the most memorable heroes in contemporary fiction: Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call.
As young Texas Rangers, Gus and Call have much to learn about survival in a land fraught with perils: not only
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Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 17th 2000 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1995)
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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Best Westerns
28th out of 701 books — 937 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryThe Time It Never Rained by Elmer KeltonThe Road by Cormac McCarthyMolly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? by Molly IvinsThe Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry
Texas Authors
6th out of 340 books — 144 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nate
Apr 18, 2015 Nate rated it liked it
Dead Man's Walk couldn't POSSIBLY be a more apt title, as this book mainly consists of two things: walking and dying. This, the chronological first of the Gus & Call stories, is a surprisingly harsh and brutal series of expeditions in the Southwest, usually involving hostile Mexicans, Apache and/or Comanche. The titular stretch of hostile ground in modern-day New Mexico is so fucking desolate and uninhabitable that it was even used for the Trinity atomic bomb test in 1945! The aforementioned ...more
Dan
My review for those who do not want to read this book:

Hungry, thirsty, lost, hungry, thirsty, lost, hungry, thirsty, Comanches, hungry, thirsty, lost, hungry, thirsty, Mexicans, hungry, thirsty, walking, hungry, thirsty, walking.

My Review for those who may:
This book, while entertaining, is rather repetitive. I'm not sure how entertaining it would be without having read Lonesome Dove first (a clearly superior novel). Strangely, both Gus and Call are bystanders rather than protagonists in this nov
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Jon
Nov 02, 2011 Jon rated it it was ok
While it was great to read about Gus and Call again - two of literature's more vivid characters - there seemed to be little point to DEAD MAN'S WALK other than "here's some more Gus & Call." While LONESOME DOVE contains not only great characters and stirring developments, but also meditates on themes of change, age and regret, here McMurtry seems content to just revisit his two leads and kick them around the old west for a few hundred pages.

Most disappointingly, in this novel Gus and Call a
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Craig
Wow. What a stinkeroo this turned out to be. In fact, it sadly confirms the suspicions I had of McMurtry while reading Lonesome Dove which is to say he has incredible skill in drawing you into a rich, realistic, dusty Old West atmosphere but lacks the ability to create a well-structured story. Also, contrary to popular opinion, I feel McMurtry -- at least in his Western novels -- paints some pretty one-dimensional characters.

This book triples the meandering of Lonesome Dove, which incidentally I
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smetchie
Mar 06, 2011 smetchie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to smetchie by: overwhelming desire for Lonesome Dove to last forever
What a let-down. Prequels blow. I don't want to see my beloved, crusty, bad-ass cowboy heroes as young, inexperienced, frightened, blundering, bottom-of-the-totem-pole, young'ins any more than I want to see Darth Vader as an insolent, surly, teenager. It's not fun or cool or satisfying at all. I wonder if I'll ever learn.
GoldGato

A man could perhaps and perhaps all day, and not find his way to the truth.

I felt as though I walked across a very long desert by the time I completed this book. The prequel to the great Lonesome Dove, this book required staying power. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of westerns but McMurtry is a more-than-decent writer so this book entered my collection. But it exhausted me.

That doesn't mean the book is hard to read. Quite the opposite. But the title is very appropriate. Walking. Lots and lots o
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Joshua Gross
Feb 22, 2013 Joshua Gross rated it really liked it
Like Lonesome Dove, there's a long journey through the whole book with a surprisingly short return journey. There's also a prostitute trying to get to California and some evil and creative Indians. This book, however, seemed more like tragedy after tragedy on the open range, where everyone is always completely miserable or in danger. Then things got weird and the book was suddenly over.
Monkey
Sep 02, 2011 Monkey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so far better than I expected!

Well, I'm glad I read this first because apparently it blows if you've read Lonesome Dove first.

I quite liked it; Feckless youths and scary-ass indians!
Not at all the romantical-style western I thought it would be.
Christopher
Feb 10, 2014 Christopher rated it really liked it
The reader meets Captains Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove as tired old men, ready for one last adventure after a life of Texas Rangering. Here in Dead Man's Walk, the reader is reintroduced to them as young recruits to the Rangers.

Like Lonesome Dove and its sequel Streets of Laredo, this prequel is a hell of a good time. McMurtry turns a guilty pleasure genre into a rich, capital-L Literary experience. Though the thorough characterization in Lo
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Jim
Jan 27, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing
Dead Man's Walk is one of the best Western novels I have read, not nearly as deep as Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian or All the Pretty Horses; but this is only the first McMurtry I have read, and I am delighted to find that there are so many more to read.

I am not very familiar with the Texas landscape, but reading this book makes me want to go visit Big Bend National Park and some of the other areas around West Texas.

At first I had a little difficulty separating the two main characters in my
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Steven
Jul 19, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western, audio
It was with quite a bit of trepidation that I gave McMurtry and his Lonesome Dove crew another shot. If you read my review of Lonesome Dove you know how furious I was with the poor ending of that very, very long novel. Also, I find McMurtry's head-hopping narrative style rather annoying.

However, McMurtry does such an amazing job of creating characters, and I was (and still am) in the mood for good Western reading that I gave Dead Man's Walk a chance. I don't regret it.

This is chronologically the
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Mary
Jul 03, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
While not as good as Lonesome Dove, I still enjoyed this book (this is actually the 2nd or 3rd time I've read it). I love the characters of Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call who were first introduced in Lonesome Dove. Dead Man's Walk is one of two prequels to Lonesome Dove. Here we see Gus and Woodrow beginning their careers as Texas Rangers. Their adventures in this book will leave the reader exhausted by the end. There are some very gruesome scenes, but there are also moments of levity provided main ...more
Molly Jae
Jun 30, 2009 Molly Jae rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Vaughn, Rex, Jay, Clark, Jerry, Darren, Dad, Uncle John and all other cowboys.
Ahh, this is a great cowboy story. It's the first time I've ever read McMurtry who has written over 30 books, and I'm excited to read more. Dead Man's Walk is the first in a tetrology which includes the Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove. I think his writing flows beautifully, his dialogue is great and you can smell the sagebrush and taste the dry sand as he describes the West. I imagine that his story reflects some truth of how the West was explored which means it is not a light-hearted story ...more
Kyle
May 23, 2011 Kyle rated it really liked it
Dead Man's Walk is the first book in the Lonesome Dove series, and features three beloved characters -- Woodrow Call, Augustus McCrae, and Clara.

If you enjoyed Lonesome Dove, don't expect to find awe inspiring younger versions of Call and McCrae in this story. Call and McCrae do not posesses great marksmanship, horsemanship, or tracking skills, they are not gifted with the ability to quickly learn Spanish, Apache, and Commanche, and they do not have great insights into the minds of Indians. The
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Teri Anderson
Sep 27, 2009 Teri Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Keli Wright
Sep 24, 2009 Keli Wright rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: cowboys
Recommended to Keli by: Mitch
I just finished "Dead Man's Walk" by Larry McMurtry It was written after "Lonesome Dove" but chronologically came before so I read it first when I was dating Mitch we talked about me reading some westerns so I had all ready bought this one and I finally got around to reading it... At first I thought "oh man this is ANOTHER GUY BOOK! this reminds me of when Ryan and Chris would tell me to read books, except Mitch had never read this book but as I'm slogging throught it, saying I think I can, I t ...more
Catherine  Mustread
The first in the four-book "Lonesome Dove series" can also be considered a prequel, since it was published ten years after the third of the original trilogy, Lonesome Dove, though Lonesome Dove was the first to be published in 1985 (?). This book follows a group of novice, inept and raggedy Texas Rangers, including Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae, setting out from San Antonio to Santa Fe, in search of victory and treasure. Instead they find much trouble, tribulation, and torture from other Rangers, ...more
Erik Hanberg
Aug 02, 2014 Erik Hanberg rated it liked it
McMurtry has such an interesting style of writing. I liked this book. Looking forward to going through all four in the series. Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite books ever. I'll reread it in order, since I haven't read since college and I have such fond memories.
Scott
Oct 29, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the book, but honestly the ending felt rushed. Especially when compared to the length of the other sections that lacked nearly as much potential.
Gary M.
Jul 19, 2015 Gary M. rated it it was amazing
I've have decided to read the entire Lonesome Dove saga in chronological order which means I kick off with Dead Man's Walk which was actually the third book published following Lonesome Dove (chronologically the third book) and Streets of Laredo (a direct sequel to Lonesome Dove and chronologically the fourth and final book in the series) . I'd previously read the Pulitzer Prize winning, Lonesome Dove but the rest of the series were new to me, though I had seen all the TV movies based on the boo ...more
Lark
Aug 11, 2014 Lark rated it liked it
Shelves: western
Dead Man's Walk throws us back in time when Gus and Call were young and green and just starting off their careers as Texas Rangers.

It definitely can't match the greatness of the first book, but I really enjoyed this shorter prologue. And plus, I was still a little in shock over the didthatjusthappen scene from the first book. So it was good to have all the characters come together again.

The best part about this book was seeing Gus and Call's friendship. The rangering parts were interesting, but
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Mark
Apr 03, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
The first volume in the Lonesome Dove prequels with August Macrae and Woodrow Call as teenagers (I think) in the Texas Rangers. The characters, some of whom were real people, mostly walk through the Llano Estacado and the Chihuahuan Desert where they have the opportunity to witness one deus ex machina event after another. The author has the old problem of needing to eliminate most of the characters without losing too many important ones. He uses an interesting technique that I call retroactive c ...more
Scott Axsom
Jan 22, 2013 Scott Axsom rated it liked it
Another rollicking McMurtry Western, the first (chronologically) of the "Lonesome Dove" series. A fun, easy read with maybe a little less allegory than I'd have preferred but what it contains is quite good. Excellent back-story work regarding Gus and Woodrow - quite delicious, that. Would've been 4 stars, if he'd shaved about a hundred pages off of it - got a little unwieldy toward the end and he had to bring in a deus ex machina to wrangle it all into the corral. Still, all-in-all, a wonderful ...more
Kristi Cramer
Wow. I listened to the audio version read by Will Patton, and I was exceptionally entertained.

It was a little hard to find the focus of the story through all the violence and suffering, and I'd maybe shave a fraction off the 5th star because of that, but I was completely drawn into the story and invested in the outcome.

In hindsight, some plot points seemed contrived, like the English Lady and her entourage, but in the moment I could easily buy into it.

I loved the characters. It is easy to see h
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Paul
Mar 17, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it
After finishing Lonesome Dove, the epic beginning of this four book series, written many years apart in total, I was sooo ready for the "second' book, chronicling the start of the two main characters careers as Texas Rangers. Unlike Lonesome Dove, when they are old salts already, this book The Dead Man's Walk, illuminates them as rank amateurs, in WAY over their heads on a doomed expedition to Santa Fe, NM, where the streets are paved with gold according to what they're told to lure them into th ...more
Sarah Goodwin
Apr 30, 2015 Sarah Goodwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: uh-merica
A really good prequel to Lonesome Dove, which like a lot of people I read first. While some people think this is a book 'about walking' I really enjoyed the long journey, the trials and fighting and the way the leadership they're under is always poor, but in so many different,realistic ways.

While the only female character is a whore (and later on the british lady, briefly)it doesn't feel misogynistic, the men are afraid of and in kind of awe of women, and Matilda is a strong character realistic
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Kyle
Jan 08, 2015 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kyle Wright
This is a interesting story with a very different perspective. Most westerns have a romantic edge to them, good guy, bad guy, a story in between, usually the good guy wins, and so it goes. This is certainly not the case with Mr. Mcmurtry's book. Be prepared, it is stark, surreal, it is hard. Death, dying, struggling to stay alive, growing up, mans fanciful belief in himself and being able to accomplish anything he sets his mind on vs. crashing into the wall of reality at the speed of sound.

The
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Kolman
Apr 28, 2015 Kolman rated it really liked it
Like most of McMurtry's westerns this focuses on the raw, reckless, superstitious reality that was Cowboys vs. Indians. He is not writing a story with characters John Wayne would be champing at the bit to portray. He is not Louis L'Amour. This book, like his others, is closer to Joseph Conrad than Louis L'Amour.
The reader is enthusiastically and unapologetically dropped - with no moral or magnetic compass for a guide - into the unforgiving wilderness that was the Texas plains. As expected, I cri
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Erin Waters
Not terrible, but not great. What we get here is the backstory of Gus and Call, the lead characters of Lonesome Dove. If you've already read Lonesome Dove, good, because chances are you already like the characters. Otherwise you will likely find them flat, unfeeling, uninteresting. A lot of things happen to them. You get almost no insights into their emotions, and witness no remarkable changes despite harrowing circumstances. Call and Gus are the same men you meet in Lonesome Dove, just younger. ...more
katy
Aug 28, 2014 katy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second book of the "Lonesome Dove" tetralogy. In this novel some Texas Rangers, including Gus and Call, head north to Santa Fe looking for silver, gold, and pretty señoritas. One mishap after another, largely due to irrational, irresponsible leaders, overtakes them. At the end only four of the original group of 200 are left. It's hard to believe these men could survive with so little food and water and walk the plains for days at a time. They overcome their final challenge through the magic-real ...more
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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
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More about Larry McMurtry...

Other Books in the Series

Lonesome Dove (4 books)
  • Comanche Moon
  • Lonesome Dove
  • Streets of Laredo

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“-she remembered them kindly, for there was a sweetness in boys that didn't last long, once they became men.” 7 likes
“Well, boys," Long Bill said. "I guess here's where I quit rangering. It's rare sport, but it ain't quite safe.” 2 likes
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