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Education of a Wandering Man

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,536 ratings  ·  209 reviews
From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 1st 1990 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1989)
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Community Reviews

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Jim
I got this for free out of a wheelbarrow of books a neighbor put out, so technically I didn't break my (loosely) self-imposed ban on buying more books before I reduced my TBR pile.

L'Amour says this isn't really an autobiography, but is supposed to focus on how he educated himself. He wanders enough to make it a pretty good, if incomplete autobiography. The byways are often more interesting than the main story. His education was mostly from reading, wandering, & talking to people, but he pla...more
Melinda
Feb 14, 2008 Melinda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: educators and everyone else
I looked at the number of books and also at what books they were; I had no idea he read so many "classics"--many of them are in the Great Books set or are recognized now as great literature. I have read hundreds of books, but I don't think I've read anywhere near as many "highbrow" books. I need to do the work, tackle the harder and lesser known stuff.

I'm inclined to use this as an argument against the mindset that 'everyone needs a college degree'. I recognize that now it's many many years late...more
Roslyn
I am fascinated with how much this man read! And all the while he was making a living doing hard manual labor, traveling, writing - he inspires me to try to fit in more reading time! He must have taken advantage of EVERY spare minute.

I love his wry humor and accurate descriptions of human nature.
Rex Fuller
This is astonishing. Yes, Louis L’Amour was a western writer. Here we learn he was that in the same sense that Eisenhower was a soldier.
L'Amour tells of his incredibly broad life experience beginning as a veterinarian’s son in the then still extant West in Jamestown, North Dakota. He soon discovered schooling was interfering with his education – because it insisted he read things he already had. So he left, quite deliberately, to get that education by direct experience and reading. He worked as...more
K.
I loved reading about this man. He was so much more than just a western writer. He had one of the largest private libraries in the country in his time. But he was a very modest man and in his library his outward set of bookshelves moved to reveal an internal aet. He didn't want to intimidate anyone. Also, I remember reading that some young person told him they wished they could skip their education and live a life like he did. He told them that would be really stupid. He said instead they would...more
Caroline
No choicer gift can any man give to another than his spirit’s intimate converse with itself. Schleiermacher

I would bet that Louis L’Amour would not be in the list of the first forty authors you might guess used a Schleiermacher quote as an epigraph for a chapter deep in his education autobiography. And it wasn’t a quote he grabbed from A Speaker’s Treasury of Quotes and Anecdotes, either. L’Amour read it, among thousands of other works ranging from Homer to Aeschylus to Gogol to Marcian of Hera...more
James
This is a memoir of a lifelong love affair with learning and books. Self-taught both through experience and by reading, Louis L'amour fills his account of his life with both action and reflection. The result was a story of a unique journey that I found uplifting. His list of books rivals any "great books" list that I have ever seen and suggests his signature western novels have an unexpected literary foundation. His story of a life of travel and self-education is as interesting as any but it is...more
Trace
I'll be the first to admit that it is a very limited audience that would adore this book as much as I did. I truly felt like I had met a kindred spirit - I would have loved to meet Mr. L'Amour and discussed books - which was his ultimate passion. I wrote down several pages of quotes from his thoughts on books.

This book was essentially a list of books that he'd read along with fragmented thoughts on how they impacted him and things he'd learned from them. He also told the story about how he obta...more
Lori
I have never read another Louis L'Amour book in my life, but after reading a brief review of this book, I picked it up at my local library. It has been one of those books that, almost 20 years after reading, I look upon as having been very influential in shaping my perspective of a specific people and time. He describes his life during the depression era as a "hobo" and is very careful to differentiate the hobos of the time from what we would consider "bums". This is the story of his traveling t...more
Kira
No. I think there is a whole generation that loves his writing and I'm sure they have good reason, but his autobiography was just odd. It started out sounding like he was bragging about how many books he's read, and then it just dragged on. It seemed like everything was an excuse for him not receiving a formal education, and that his experiences were just as good. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.
It's sad that he didn't mention anything about his children or his wife, who I'm sure were very impor...more
John
EDUCATION OF A WANDERING MAN is a pastiche of thoughtful musings on history and literature, with a healthy dose of autobiography thrown into the mix. Apparently, L'Amour died before putting the final touches on it (the book was published posthumously), and the end result feels disorganized and meandering. Not bad, just unpolished.
I haven't read Louis L'Amour since I was a teen, and I had forgotten what a quality writer he really was. Sure, his stories were formulaic, but the man carried with him...more
Micahb
This was a very strange read. I probably should have looked into some of the background of this book before starting it. This is, in a sense, an autobiographical account of certain elements of Mr. L'Amour's reading and some of his experiences that contributed to his education. As he states early in the book, he left formal schooling at 15 for two reasons - economic necessity, and it interfered with his education. The remainder of the book seems to start to tell some of his more defining moments,...more
Robyn Groth
At this point, I have not read a single western novel, and if I happen to be in a room with a television when someone else is watching a western movie, I don't give it much of my attention.

In short, I am not a fan of westerns. But to be fair, I haven't really given them a chance.

I read this book as part of a string of autobiographies/memoirs written by autodidacts. (I also read The Day I Became an Autodidact, Polyglot: How I Learn Languages and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.) And I can...more
Chris Frederick
Warning:
These reviews are to help me process my reading and improve my writing. They may be useful to other readers, too; just don't be turned off by their personal nature.


Who is Louis L'Amour?
He read over 100 books a year. He worked hard labor and starved throughout 1930's America. He was a boxer. He wrote novels about the American West. And I learned all this from Louis L'Amour's memoir, The Education of a Wandering Man.

I did not intend to read it. That's exactly why I carefully assembled a...more
Charlotte lu
-book review for Education of a Wandering Man


For my whole life, I always regard myself as a novel reader. Reading prose or traveling notes has been a big problem for me as I would fall asleep all the time. But this time, I gave myself a great challenge for deciding to read "a notes" by Louis L’Amour, a great novel writer.


So as the day-to-day progress of reading Education of a wandering man, I realized that I am not the only one who tried to find challenge him/herself. Louis L'Amour elaborated th...more
Andrew
This here is Louis L'Amour's anecdotal biography, and one that was begging to be written. The man had an amazing and fascinating life; he lived it all the way to the marrow is the only way I can think of to describe it. I had read other biographical articles on him so I already knew a few things about him. My only complaint about this book is that some of the rambling abstactions could be cut out and replaced with more bio. He only gives us about 10% of his story, although even that is priceless...more
Ivan Probst
Louis' story is an amazing description of what books can provide to you. Maybe the education word is too much. Or too restrictive actually. In our actual world, where knowledge is one click away form wikipedia, reading books actually provides with something more. You can personal interpretation, rather than plain fact, which is also important to build your own opinion. If you are capable of judging and understanding what you read in a book and not accept it as facts, you are on good track to bui...more
Maria
Last month was the 100th year anniversary of Louis L'Amour's birth. I felt that reading his memior was a good way to celebrate his birth.

I grew up in a home surrounded by the books of Louis L'Amour. He was one of my father's favorite fiction authors, and we listened to more than one of his books on tape during our family car trips. It was fascinating to learn more about L'Amour.

This book is more about L'Amour's philosphy about self-education and the importance of reading than it is about him as...more
Andrew
I just read this for a second time. I think I could read it again and still get more out of it. It is filled with wisdom that is beneficial for all. Two of my favorite quotations from the book:

I think the greatest gift anyone can give to another is the desire to know, to understand. Life is not for simply watching spectator sports, or for taking part in them; it is no for simply living from one working day to the next. Life is for delving, discovering, learning.

Often I think of what pitiful foo...more
Sharon
I read this book every couple of years.

L'Amour was one of the great writers.

Having said that, I purchase copies of this book to give to struggling high school students so they can see that others before them struggled and became successful. They can see the work it takes to become successful without a formal education.

One quote from one of those high school students: "I never knew you could learn something from books."

I recommend this book for everyone, whether they like Louis L'Amour or not, e...more
Cindy
Oct 15, 2014 Cindy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I expected some great stories but instead got lists of all the books he's read, his thoughts on world history and being a writer. It's wonderful that's how he educated himself but I wanted cool stories from a long interesting life! Disappointed.
Kennyo
Louis L'Amour's oeuvre is predominantly westerns with no Hollywood connection, which is to say that they're not cartoonish shoot-em-ups. His writing benefits greatly from the breadth of his experience and the depth of his ephemeral library. (By "ephemeral" I mean that as a seaman he couldn't carry a library around but he could carry the learning he gained from the books that passed through his hands.) Once he'd settled down he was able to keep the books he read and upon his death his shelves hel...more
Rebecca
This book inspired me to try to keep a journal on the books I read. L'Amour for years kept annual lists of the many and highly-varied books he read and I was completely charmed and intrigued by the eclectic nature of his reading. He literally read everything and anything he got his hands on, and as he recounts in this simple and charming memoir of his lifelong autodidactic wanderings, that ran the gamut.

Before this the only L'Amour book I'd read was his novel "The Haunted Mesa", which I found un...more
Caitee Nigro
Education of a Wandering Man, now my favorite book, is Louis L'Amour's recollection of the early evolution of his education. A memoir, Education of a Wandering Man tells the story of L'Amour's days hobo-ing across the United States searching for work, interesting people and books worth reading. In it, he recalls the events of his youth which comprised his education outside of school. The book emphasizes the beauty in experiential learning and the eternal human condition of vulnerability and curi...more
Melissa Martin
I have never read one of his books in my life. I might have to read some now. A friend recommended this as I love memoirs! I was not expecting to love this book so much.
I have to say the only part I did not like is where he says the buffalo had to go, no they didn't. White man thought the Native Americans had to go as well. I'm not in belief of any of those things as they are crap!
But onto the book! I would never have thought he was this sort of man that wandered around doing jobs here and th...more
Wendy
One of my favorite books, L'amour writes about his love of books and how important they were to him. This was the book that got me really into reading. It was a book I had to read for a class through BYU. It opened my eyes to how much aa effect a collection of words could have on people. After this book I couldn't stop reading more. L'amour is a great story teller also, it was a definite page turner.
Kit Fox
Another book my mother sent me because she said it reminded her of her mother a lot. I never met her, but I was always told that my grandmother was also one of those autodidacts who saw reading and education as a means to escape the crappy little Oregon logging towns she grew up around. Honestly haven't read any Louis L'Amour books myself, but if you have and you ever found yourself wondering (possibly aloud), "Man, I wonder what books Louis L'Amour liked to read?" then this answers that and mor...more
Angela
Aug 20, 2007 Angela rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I never thought I would ever read a book by Louis L'Amour, but read I have. I then happened upon "Education of a Wandering Man" and was thoroughly impressed by this gentleman's experiences and how he has translated them into such great works of literature. There are many tidbits of wisdom found in this book, it is definitely worth the read.
Garrett
Jul 08, 2007 Garrett rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
I don't like Louis L'Amour, his writing, or really any of his books. I'm only reading this for my book club. It seems like he's just bragging about how many books he read in his life... sure, I'm only into it about 25 pages, but I don't like it.
Conrad
Some people have mistakenly labelled this book as an autobiography - it's not. Rather, it is (as the title suggests) a recounting of the education the author received from his extensive reading while traveling and working a variety of jobs (most involving physical manual labor). While his language is quite straightforward and he tends to jump from one subject to another (rather abruptly at times), he shares his insights, his philosophy of life and some speculations about the future also. In revi...more
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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
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“A book is less important for what it says than for what it makes you think.” 81 likes
“I have read my books by many lights, hoarding their beauty, their wit or wisdom against the dark days when I would have no book, nor a place to read. I have known hunger of the belly kind many times over, but I have known a worse hunger: the need to know and to learn.” 51 likes
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