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How the West Was Won
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How the West Was Won

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  1,956 Ratings  ·  81 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
ebook, 368 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Bantam (first published March 1962)
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Aug 01, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Western writer Louie L’Amour’s more recognizable titles, and rightly so, this entertaining fictional history was first published in 1962.

Telling the compact, fast moving story of a family of settlers from the 1840s to the 1880s, L’Amour covers a lot of ground and paints a portrait of the old west in grand scale.

This was clearly well researched by the author. L’Amour made an astute observation about the Western Native Americans, comparing their horse culture with the Mongols and went furth
Jason Koivu
Jul 20, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 14, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, western, 1audio
More of a 3.5, but quite good, more meat than the typical L'Amour. Sort of a quick version of John Jakes' Bicentennial series, just focused on the mid to late 1800's. I was surprised to find out that L'Amour just wrote the novelization of the screenplay, not the original story.
Ryan Mishap
Mar 08, 2009 Ryan Mishap rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: when-i-was-a-lad

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
Jul 08, 2016 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know that there are people out there who have read every single one of Louis L'Amour's books. Most of them also probably fall into the category of people who have rarely read a book written by anybody else. I saw a documentary about something-or-other once wherein the documentarian interviewed a man who bragged that he had read every Louis L'Amour novel at least ten times, marking the dates that he'd the read each book inside the front cover.

I'm not that guy. Before now, I've never read anythi
Nov 26, 2011 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 01, 2014 Dennis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-lit
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
Feb 26, 2011 wally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lamour
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
An Odd1
Jan 31, 2011 An Odd1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
** "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
Dec 08, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was prepared to give this book three stars - until Zeb went West. The first half of the book was a poor imitation of the movie. The second half, however, is superior to the movie. Once Zeb goes west, L'Amour takes over and offers us context, back stories and complexity that the movie could not explore. It truly feels like two different books. What Jimmy Stewart gave us in Linus could not be beaten by L'Amour but what LLA gave to Zeb, Julie and Jethro could have been its own classic film.
Mar 26, 2008 Rae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
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.
Nov 27, 2014 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, quick read. Skimmed from character to character a little too shallowly, but I guess it's a Louis l'amour so you should expect it. There are river pirates, buffalo, trains, gold, arapahoes, and some altercations with bears...what more could you ask for?
Hayley Shaver
This was a good western. This book was adapted from a screenplay. it's about a family hat immigrates to the west, meeting up with a trapper and starting a chain of events that will make it so their family participates in many historical moments pertaining to the settlement of the west. My only issue with this book was character development. The character development was unusually shallow for L'Amour, but I chalk that up to the fact he had to work with what character development there was in the ...more
Jan 15, 2017 Eldon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Other reviewers do a fine job in explaining what this book is about so I'll just say for me I found it to be mostly interesting and entertaining. However, by the time I had 75% of the book read, I was invested enough to want to finish it, but was ready for it to end.
Jeff Herle
Dec 30, 2016 Jeff Herle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grity tale of the movement West spanning multiple generations. My Dad's favorite author so I wanted to follow in his footsteps for this read during the holidays.
Sep 09, 2016 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An accidentally odd choice for my first Louis L'Amour book. Obviously, I'd heard of him over the years. Who hasn't, who grew up in Arizona? Well, okay, some people, but still. When I went to pick out some classic Westerns, I picked one by Zane Grey, The Ox-Bow Incident (because I'd seen the movie eons ago and enjoyed it) and a Louis L'Amour book. I picked this one, again, because I'd seen the movie when I was a kid (wasn't Jimmy Stewart in it? I love Jimmy Stewart) and thought it'd be a good one ...more
Danny M
Oct 17, 2013 Danny M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
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
Steve Chaput
Oct 02, 2012 Steve Chaput rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Don Wagner
Apr 08, 2015 Don Wagner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was written from the screenplay of the movie, which came out in 1962-1963. My wife and I are currently watching the movie (it is very long!), and the book gave a lot more background, making it a better story.

The good points of the book are that the characters are interesting, and as I reader I cared for what happened to them. Apparently none of the characters in the movie is "based on fact," though many historical figures are throughout the story. There is still a great feeling of histo
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
Sep 05, 2016 Clint rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I always thought Louis L'Amour was probably some cheesy western hack who wrote about families on the range, and the fact that this was actually a novelization of a movie meant I'd just be reading it as fast as I could to tell my girlfriend, who recommended it, that I didn't like it. Who knew that it'd actually be pretty good? It starts off a little slow, and there is a lot of family stuff, and cheesy dialogue and exposition, but I really got into t ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2011 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
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
Oct 09, 2010 Cora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 09, 2013 Micahb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 19, 2015 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this book was very well written and kept with the style and authenticity of the time period, which I feel the author excelled at. Overall, a very good historical fiction. However, I only gave it four stars because while I admired the writting style and the way the time passed between generations of characters, (which was a nice edition, going through 3 generations thus creating new main characters as time went by), the book didnt exactly keep me engaged. This is the top reason it ...more
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
May 21, 2011 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
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
David Hull
Nov 06, 2016 David Hull rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a couple of cross-states RV road trips through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, I decided it was time to read a little about 'The Old Wild West'. And what better place to start, than Louis L'Amour's "How The West Was Won." An enjoyable immersion into the colorful and charismatic collection of lives and experiences, of true-to-life characters in the old Wild West. A fun ride, leaving the reader aching for more. I'll certainly be enjoy ...more
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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".
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“I've noticed...that whenever a man is asked to be realistic he is being asked to betray something in which he believes. It is the favorite argument of those who believe that only the end matters, not the means.” 1 likes
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