How the West Was Won
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How the West Was Won

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,397 ratings  ·  52 reviews
They came by river and by wagon train, braving the endless distances of the Great Plains and the icy passes of the Sierra Nevada. They were men like Linus Rawlings, a restless survivor of Indian country who’d headed east to see the ocean but left his heart—and his home—in the West. They were women like Lilith Prescott, a smart, spirited beauty who fled her family and fell...more
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Published September 28th 2004 by Bantam (first published March 1962)
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Jason Koivu
Good ol' fashioned shoot 'em up fun!

How the West was Won follows an ancestral family tree of folks through short story snippets of their lives as played out over the course of the United States' western expansion.

L'Amour develops characters just enough to make you care if they survive the big moments of the 19th century, such as the gold rush and the Civil War. This is not brilliant prose. For instance, everything in Louis L'Amour's world happens suddenly! He fires off a six-shooter's worth of...more
Ryan Mishap

My dad loves all his books and I read over a hundred while staving off the night terrors when growing up.

It is a strange fact about the old west, Indians, and the genocidal take over of the land now called the United States that fiction writing about them is often taken for truth (see Ward Churchill's Fantasies of the Master Race). The back of almost every L'amour novel lauds his knowledge of "how it really was" and the fact that he could've been one of the tough, honorable, lonely fighting men...more
Dennis
This epic leads off with the Rawlings family headed west from upstate New York via the Erie Canal. Action is the mainstay of Louis L'Amour's world. And in Louis L'Amour books, the action takes place suddenly! Suddenly the family encounters a band of bandits on the Ohio River! Suddenly dangerous waters overturn their homespun raft with devastating results! And suddenly the family members part paths and embark on new adventures throughout the American West.

The amusing thing about his American Wes...more
Paul
The holidays are a perfect time to read Louis L'Amour. So I found this at the local library. When I checked it out I thought the title seemed a little familiar, just like the classic movie staring Jimmy Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne, Gregory Peck and others, and wondered how Hollywood could have used the exact same title. Well, it turns out that the movie IS exactly the same as the book. I decided that this is one of the ultra-rare occasions where the movie is MUCH better than the book. T...more
An Odd1
** "How The West Was Won", by Louis L'Amour, begins well, but deteriorates. The first part is the clearest, a trapper snared by the elder daughter of a pioneer family, whose relations people the other four parts. The second part matches the younger sister with a gambler who toughens into an honorable gunman, practically synonyms in L'Amour language. Perhaps my confusion stems from the book being based on a screenplay, trying to weave too many threads, railway through Indian land, war with the Un...more
Rae
This was not original with L'Amour--it is actually a novelization of the movie screenplay by James R. Webb. At any rate, I felt like the novel had too many characters scattered throughout and tried to tell too expansive of a story. Although I did enjoy the details and some of the characters, I found that the whole thing wasn't very cohesive.
Steve
This is an unusual work by L'Amour, as it was a novelization of a screenplay and not an original novel. Written for the screen by James R. Webb and the uncredited John Gay, the MGM film was made in Cinerama and released in 1962. L'Amour was hired to turn the work into a novel and he does a great job with it.

I have not seen the movie in over twenty years and that was on television, so I can't say how closely the book follows the film. I am going to assume that L'Amour followed the script pretty c...more
Danny M
Oct 17, 2013 Danny M rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
THIS IS A WONDERFUL BOOK TO READ. ALTHOUGH THE CHARACTERS ARE FICTIONAL IT GIVES THE READER AN INSIGHT INTO THE EARLY DAYS OF AMERICA. THE BOOK IS LIKE READING A HISTORY BOOK OF THE UNITED STATES THAT YOU WILL NOT WANT TO PUT DOWN. THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEA BEHIND THE BOOK WAS TO PROVIDE A RETELLING OF THE PROGRESS OF THE WESTWARD MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICA. SET BETWEEN 1839 THROUGH 1889 THE BOOK FOLLOWS FOUR GENERATIONS OF A FAMILY AS THEY MOVE EVER WESTWARD, FROM WESTERN NEW YORK STATE TO...more
Heather
I picked this one up at a used book sale. Rather than a novel, it's more a collection of short stories following members of a pioneer family, the Prescotts. I hadn't realized this when I started it, but it's based on the screenplay of a famous movie. I've never seen the movie, so I got on the waiting list to check it out from the library.

Zebulon and Rebecca Prescott sell their upstate New York farm to head down the Ohio River to a new life of adventure. The book follows what happens to their fam...more
Chuck
I really enjoy reading the reviews of Louis L'Amour books. They seem to fall in to a number of polarized catagories. The book is either loved for it's simplicity, common sense and its romanticizing the West during the second half of the 19th century or hated for the same reasons. The other common thread is that there is always the politically correct that, with the wisdom of hindsight, quickly points out that it was a violent time and very abusive to native Americans. Custer was a hero for fifty...more
Shakespearesgirl
While I enjoyed most of this novel, by the end of it, the people I was interested in--Lillith, Eve, Cleve, and Linus--were dead (excepting Lillith). Which made the last third of the book extremely boring. I've never been someone who can care about a character just because they're the daughter/son/in-law/niece/nephew/etc. of the character I fell in love with. This is a lot of my problem with what is usually termed "epic" fiction, where the story follows generations. It's why I couldn't get into K...more
Jamie Allen
Picked up for 50 cents at local coffee shop/ice cream parlor Dr. Bombay's. So this is a novel based on the screenplay of the movie, it turns out. The ol' switcheroo.

Anyway: Louis should learn to describe things. During action scenes - gun fights, tussles - I often had no idea exactly what was happening. And many of his sentences are like, "What? Did he have to write this on a two-week deadline?"

Aside from that, I was entertained. It was like - well, it was like watching a safe and commercially v...more
Cora
This book is an interweaving of several "chapters" of a family's stories and includes four generations. From the opening on the Ohio edge of the frontier to the Civil War and gold rush in California, the reader follows the crossing of paths and introduction of character types in the process of moving from pristine wilderness to industrialization.

The one character that is in the opening and closing pages is one of LaMour's females. She is a high-spirited dreamer who is determined and hard-working...more
Craig
This is an engaging fictional history of the West told in the form of the members of a family (the Prescots) who leave their rocky farmland of New England to seek better land in the West. The epic starts a the Erie Canal. Disaster strikes early and the family is split up. Each member then plays his/her steroetypical part in the settlement of America's West. The story of the westward movement is told in parts: Mountain men; early settlers; struggles between the white man and the Indians; the Cali...more
Micahb
I was intrigued when this book showed up on one of my "must read" lists. While I haven't seen the movie (the novel is based on the screenplay), I think I would enjoy it. It is the telling of 'how the west was won' through various characters who all belong to one family (some relations are distant). It was a great story, as L'Amour's usually are, with great, if not terribly deep characters - archetypes, really. If there was ever a place where archetypes were necessary, it is in the telling of thi...more
wally
yeah, so i'm looking at my list and trying to figure out how i can pad it out, so as to look erudite, and i figured, well, i know i read probably close to 40 titles...lying on my rack on board the mccain, ensign such-and-such making the rounds, get off your rack, sailor...

so....i went out to the 01 level weatherdeck where the captain tripped over my legs...underway and all, me, lost in the wild wild west and out there on the blue lonesome.

didn't they make a movie of this one? all those conestoga...more
Doreen
I would have given this book 5 stars. The only thing that held me back was the jump between characters each paragraph. It was tough to keep track of who was speaking. Other than that, it was a fabulous read, full of Wild West drama - train robberies and Indian raids!!
Erin
I have read this book hundreds of times. However, I finally figured out why I don't like it very much. I have always felt that this book was missing L'Amour's voice. As the owner of almost every book he has ever written, I know what his authors voice is like and I felt it missing from the novel. My husband pointed out that the novel is actually based on the movie/screen play that someone else wrote. Eureka! No wonder the tone of the novel was different from his authors. It wasn't his creation to...more
Cinnamon
Loved the classic movie and love the book even more
Such a great epic about how one family could really be a part of all of the greatest adventures of the 19th century.
Follows the Prescott/ Rawlings families through the conquering of the West, from settling in Ohio, the gold fields of California, back to the Battle of Shiloh, the military presence in the West after the Civil War, the transcontinental railroad and finally the Wild West days of outlaws and the marshalls who brought order and justic...more
Donna Agnelly
Read this one a long time ago and for whatever reason, decided to re-read it. Enjoyed it just as much the second time around. My dad and I went to all the Cineramas and I can remember watching this one with him - he did love Westerns and any movie dealing with the West. I kept hearing the soundtrack in my head as I read the book and remembered what actors played each character. A really pleasant remembrance of time spent with my dad and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Hazel
I have no idea whether the historical details were accurate, but this seems like a good brief introduction to the history of the time. Of course L'Amour doesn't do subtle characterisation, but he runs through the frontier stereotypes, the mountain men, the homesteaders, the gunmen, the railroad men. On the downside, he skims over the conquest of the Native Americans, and barely mentions slavery, and his female characters are mere sketches.
Deanene
Not about the book--only about my surprise. I was bored, didn't want to spend money on a new book, went looking through the house and found the collection of Louis L'Amour books in the basement that I had incessantly teased my husband about for years. Didn't know that when I actually picked one up to read that I'd become a fan of his verse. I keep going back for more...I'm sure I'll find other things to tease my husband about...
Greg
Covering three generations of a family moving westward and establishing homes, this is a fictional, but reasonably historially true-to-life account of the opening of the west. A bit different from L'Amour's more traditional western novles, but I enjoyed it tremendously. Has also been made into a pretty good movie with James Stewart, George Peppard, Debbie Reynolds, and other outstanding thespians.
Sarah
Rich with detail, less so on plot; I liked the way the separate stories all interwined with related characters, but some of them I wanted to know more about and was disappointed at the abrupt switching. An interesting book, seemed old-timey stylistically as well as in subject; not sure I'd be interested enough to read more by the author, but "reading a L'Amour" was a good experience. :)
Steven
I was flabbergasted to discover L'Amour had written the novel on which the excellent movie was based. Then around chapter three I realized the movie was based on a screenplay by another writer--and L'Amour was hired at some later time to write a novelization.

That being said, it IS a good book, with development of characters and events that adds to the original movie's story.
Clark
Very different from most of L'Amour's other works, as it's not original. Still an interesting story with his writing style.
Kim
I read this because it was the only book in the house that I hadn't already read. It was a quick, simple read - not horrible and not stellar. L'Amour paints a nice little western picture that I'm sure people like my grandfather ate right up. There was a definite lack of character development and I felt little to no emotional involvement in the story.
Tim
Great depiction of the Old West without all the, you know, Native American racism and weak-willed women you find in typical western novels. Seeing as the novel covers a large time period with a variety of settings, you get to see all the common Western tropes, such as gun fights, train robberies, wild river rides, and people living with and against nature.
Marilyn
I listened to the book while machine quilting. That means sometimes I don't get every word. I found it interesting. I think it was used as script for a movie. I'm not sure. If it wasn't it should have been. I want to listen to or read more of Louis L'Amour. I know he has a huge fan base.
Charles
This book was actually based on a screenplay by a guy named James R. Webb. It's a pretty good book for all that, though. Not among my favorite of L'Amour's, but good. I think they made a movie or a mini-series from this featuring James Arness of Gunsmoke fame but I could be wrong.
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Book was based on movie 1 4 Jul 14, 2013 11:05AM  
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Louis L'Amour was an American author. L'Amour's books, primarily Western fiction, remain enormously popular, and most have gone through multiple printings. At the time of his death all 101 of his works were in print (86 novels, 14 short-story collections and one full-length work of nonfiction) and he was considered "one of the world's most popular writers".
-Wikipedia
More about Louis L'Amour...
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