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3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  135 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Winner of the 2009 Spur Award for Long Fiction

Seventeen-year-old Ned Thorne lied his way into the U.S. Army, and is sent to the remote Fort Ramsey, deep in Arizona Territory. There, his young eyes will be opened to the true beauty and savage barbarity of the American frontier.

When a local ranch is attacked by Apaches and a young woman taken into bondage, Ned and the r
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Berkley (first published 2008)
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D. Pow
Jul 13, 2010 D. Pow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-west
The Book: Part One
Thomas Cobb’s Shavetail is an impressive, compulsively readable novel that begins with the protagonist, young Pvt. Ned Thorne arriving in something like purgatory at the ass end of the universe, at an Arizona Army post in 1871, and it as it progresses things get very much worse than that.

Yes, it’s a western. Yes, it has been compared to Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry. Yes, this is by the guy who wrote the killer Country Western Novel Crazy Heart that the Dude finally won a
Dec 13, 2009 Gloria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've just realized how much I miss reading westerns. This story was gritty, violent, raw and well-written. Louis L'Amour on steroids. I think I need to find more by Thomas Cobb.
Oct 17, 2014 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If my stories were as eloquent, insightful, and compelling as this one, I would die happy.

This story of a failed mission of the early American soldiers out West evokes themes that carry us into the present day: the futility of war, the fight against an enemy that is really ourselves, and the coming of age through brutality.

Ned Thorne is our hero, but we cannot always love what he does. His choices are sometimes strange to our modern ideas and ways, and when the finale comes, we are left wonder
Sam Reaves
A literary western shading more toward Cormac McCarthy than Elmer Kelton, this novel takes us to southeast Arizona in 1871, where the U.S. Army is establishing an outpost in territory recently and very tenuously pacified. The Apaches watch from the hills as a small detachment under a pair of dead-end officers, one a drunk and the other a depressive, builds a new post. A fresh recruit arrives, a New England lad who ran away from home after a traumatic experience. The cynical, hard-bitten mule ski ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I forgot how much I love reading a good Western. Cobb writes with enough subtle humor to bring to mind Larry McMurtry. Well-written characters, including the character of the harsh Arizona Territory. Despite the regular chuckles, his writing also elicits tugs on the heart. The tragedies that befall these men leave the reader surprisingly sad. I never gave up hoping that the lieutenant and the young calvaryman would each overcome their his missteps. Private Ned Thorne's brave, unrelenting attempt ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Edward rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with other reviewers that "Shavetail" gives a realistic and riveting look at life in an isolated Army outpost in the Arizona Territory during the war against the Apache. His portrayal of camp life as boring, dirty, banal and brutal is probably as close to the reality as any author has done. Cobb has done his research, and it is a delight to see his inclusion of historical sources at the end of the book. The characters are quite compelling: Thorne, his fellow soldiers, Brickner, Franklin ...more
A book I enjoyed reading. It's really well-written, & the narrative just pulls you along. It presents the west & the cavalry as it was. It was stark & brutal, but, ultimately hopeful.
Ron Harton
Jan 11, 2014 Ron Harton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very-well written Western. Right up there with Lonesome Dove. The ending is a little quick, more resolution is needed (or maybe a sequel), especially if the novel is to keep the promises made on the cover. But it is a good read. I was caught up in the strong characters, suspenseful plot, and intriguing setting. I hope this author writes more Westerns.
Tim Countryman
Aug 27, 2015 Tim Countryman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-west
One of the most amazing stories I've read. The adventure was complete with perspectives from different characters who make up the story. I did not want this book to end.
Jun 06, 2011 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
rather harsh, but probably true to the western frontier in AZ. very interesting coming of age story of 17 year old escaping unfortunate situation back east in the 1860s. he joins the army and is sent to Arizona territory. harsh army life.
Feb 18, 2012 Leon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of "miltarstic" westerns
Set in 1870s Southwest, this book has language that puts you in the barren, sweltering mountains of New Mexico, where you can feel the anxiety and strength that permeates Ned Thorne's existence in the US Army.
Shelee Bush
May 31, 2010 Shelee Bush rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, gritty tale of a regiment of United States Soldiers, led by two disgraced leaders. Trouble abounds in Arizona when 17 year old Ned joins up the group. I felt hot and dirty just reading it.
Aug 19, 2013 Clifdisc rated it really liked it
A well written Western in the realist vein. I doubt this will make anyone's list of favorite Westerns yet I suspect it will be enjoyed by all fans of the genre.
Judy Templeton-sims
This book was not easy to get into. But I kind of gives a hint of what life was like then.

I would really give ths a 2 1/2 star.
Jan 28, 2008 Rusty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read the first quarter of this or so in ms, and I fully expect it to be a big book, in the tradition of Mcmurtry and McCarthy.
Sep 17, 2010 Dianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just starting this one. Really liked this book. It is somewhat different than what I usually read, but an excellent story.
Mar 21, 2014 SheLove2Read marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Just can't seem to get interested in this one. DNF. No rating because it's not the book, it's me.
J. rated it liked it
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Brutal and deft, laced with both violence and desire, Shavetail plunges into the deepest of human urges."
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