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3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,918 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
John Russell has been raised as an Apache. Now he's on his way to live as a white man. But when the stagecoach passengers learn who he is, they want nothing to do with him -- until outlaws ride down on them and they must rely on Russell's guns and his ability to lead them out of the desert. He can't ride with them, but they must walk with him or die.
Paperback, 201 pages
Published March 5th 2002 by HarperTorch (first published 1961)
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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
52nd out of 760 books — 959 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyTrue Grit by Charles Portis
Literary Westerns
40th out of 124 books — 213 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
An excellent book made into a movie that followed it very closely starring Paul Newman. It just doesn't get any better than that. It's a western, very realistic & gritty.

Leonard's characters are all flawed in such interesting ways. The hero is a halfbreed who resents the hell out of the world & makes life hard on himself because he won't communicate. It's not stupid, but understandable the way Leonard writes it. The logic of each character is remorseless. Like a train wreck, you can see
Cathy DuPont
Jul 09, 2014 Cathy DuPont rated it really liked it
Okey, dokey guys. This is the first western I've ever read and I loved it. However, it's by Elmore Leonard and there are not many books by EL that I haven't enjoyed.

I will read again; it went right back on my "to read again" shelf because I wasn't feeling well and mind wandered.

Can't believe that 1) I read a western; 2) I loved the main character; and 3) there was a story to tell, a well-crafted story. No surprises there, it was by the Master, Elmore Leonard.
Feb 08, 2013 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
Hombre means man! Paul Newman is Hombre! - Movie tagline

Elmore Leonard wrote westerns?! The cool guy responsible for the great 90s movies Jackie Brown, Out of Sight and Get Shorty used to write in an old man's genre? Incredible. It was news to me when they remade 3:10 To Yuma and over the past several months I've dabbled with the genre a little, this being my eighth experience. I've heard it said that Leonard did this stuff better than anybody and Hombre is perhaps his finest work within the wes
Jul 10, 2011 Ed rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of traditional Westerns/general readers
Recommended to Ed by: Not sure where I got this rec from
Loved it. Certainly a classic Western as it's often touted, Hombre was published in 1961. It is Elmore Leonard's only first person point-of-view novel, according to his 1989 Introduction to The Armchair Detective Library edition I read. Believe it or not, my local public library still shelved it in their holdings. The Apache-raised white John Russell is a perplexing protagonist given his stoic, pragmatic outlook. I liked the narrator's voice, brisk pace, steady build up, and gut-felt climax. Did ...more
Wayne Barrett
Jan 13, 2016 Wayne Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, western, 2015
3.5 actual rating
The early western works of Elmore Leonard read like one of the old spaghetti westerns on tv. It was an easy read and good overall but there was just not enough action taking place for me to give it a full 4 stars.
Feb 24, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it
Brutal western about a stagecoach robbery.

Somehow I thought this was Elmore Leonard's first novel. In fact, it was his fifth. He began publishing Westerns in 1953 with The Bounty Hunters. But for me Hombre is a good place to start.

Hombre was the name given to John Russell, a tough and fearless white man raised partly by Apaches. The story is set in Arizona mining country complete with stage coaches, outlaws, and a big pile of money over which the other main characters commit violence and crime.

I hadn't known that Leonard started out wit
Donna Brown
Aug 30, 2013 Donna Brown rated it it was amazing
In the middle of reading Singer's The Manor, hanging Around 19th century Poles, I sort of stumbled into Hombre on my Nook at the doctor's office. A few pages and I was hooked. What wonderfully crafted language and characters, along with a plot that's impossible to put down.

Always a big Paul Newman fan, I vaguely remember the movie, in which he played the title character. It was good, but I don't think it began to define the characters the way the book does.

It's only about a hundred pages, and
May 04, 2011 Angelakfox rated it liked it
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but when I was staring down the shelf of Western paperbacks, trying to find one that could fill a class requirement while causing me a minimum of mental agony, you’d better believe I was trying. A muted color scheme with simple, commanding fonts versus a cacophony of color and an overly-stylized typeface? A “classic” with blurbs from high-browed literary institutions versus #248 in a series? And most importantly, a solitary horseback rider in a barre ...more
Heath Lowrance
Nov 10, 2014 Heath Lowrance rated it it was amazing
HOMBRE was a huge leap forward for Elmore Leonard, in my opinion. His first four novels were all solid, well-written Westerns, but with very little that made them stand out from the hundreds of other Westerns at the time. I'm a fan of those early ones for their remarkable compactness and directness of style, but HOMBRE is the first one that feels really different, not just in its themes but in the way Leonard approaches the characters.

It's unique also in that it's the first (and only) one writte
Jan 16, 2016 zackxdig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 23, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Drama:
John Russell has been raised as an Apache. Now he's on his way to live as a white man. But when the stagecoach passengers learn who he is, they want nothing to do with him. That is, until outlaws ride down on them and they must rely on Russell to lead them out of the desert.

Not so bad but I still prefer his "roman noir" series.
Feb 01, 2015 Mohammed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel isnt the best i have read by Elmore Leonard when it comes to the storytelling but the prose,the writing was so fine,crisp and in his best form in my experience. The dialogue,the characters, the sense of place was a great read and much more interesting than how the novel begins and ends.

Jan 30, 2009 Randy rated it it was amazing
Classic novel about a white man raised by Apaches coming to try to live in the world of his people. He gets caught up in a stage robbery and the rest depend on him for survival, even though they previously didn't even want him in the coach with them.
Mar 31, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew what to expect of this for two reasons: One it's by Elmore Leonard who is one of the world's best known writers of thrillers and perhaps to a slightly lesser extent and earlier, of westerns. Many of his books have gone on to be films and he has a huge amount of experience in film and tv writing although he allegedly has a tendency to dislike the adaptations of his work. The second reason I knew what to expect is that, in this case, I've seen the film. In fact the book was for once to my m ...more
Gary Baughn
Aug 27, 2013 Gary Baughn rated it it was ok
Shelves: guilty-pleasures
I love the late Elmore Leonard's crime fiction, and even though this is one of his early westerns, a genre he dropped quickly, I had already seen the movie they made of this very early Elmore Leonard, with Paul Newman as the title halfbreed, and I wanted to see how much of the later craftsman would show up in this beginning book.
Not much. First off, there is a somewhat naive character narrating, and Leonard does not do 'naive' convincingly. It comes off as 'stupid.' Secondly, that narrator gets
Jan 09, 2014 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: westerns
After the muddled The Bounty Hunters (1953), Elmore Leonard’s skill as a novelist took a quantum leap forward with this novel. Hombre is a tense western thriller that is also a fascinating study of an enigmatic character. That character is John Russell, the “hombre” of the title.

The story is set, like other Leonard novels, in southern Arizona. The year is 1884. A stagecoach is held up by road agents, and all the passengers are set afoot in the desert. The robbery doesn’t go quite as planned, and
Stephen McQuiggan
Mar 11, 2016 Stephen McQuiggan rated it it was amazing
Short, fantastic tale with a wonderful narrator. They don't want halfbreed Russell to share their stagecoach but, after they're held up and fighting to survive they quickly change their minds. A damn fine book that fizzes along without you ever noticing the strings.
Alex Gherzo
Apr 20, 2014 Alex Gherzo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm in a big Western mood at the moment, and amidst rewatching a bunch of Clint Eastwood classics, I realized I'd never read a Western novel (unless you count The Gunslinger, which... let's not). So I bought a couple and decided to read the very short Hombre first. While not the classic people make it out to be, I did quite enjoy Elmore Leonard's most celebrated Western novel.

John Russell is riding on a stagecoach with five other passengers, plus the driver, to get back to his father's land so h
Feb 02, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing
HOMBRE by Elmore Leonard is a modern day masterpiece of historical fiction. It not only celebrates the life of an imaginary hero, but it brings to the reader’s attention all that is good, gracious and upstanding about what it means to be American. The book starts out relatively slowly but it possesses one of the most riveting, suspenseful climaxes you will ever find yourself attached to.

The reader may well find themselves unsure about the qualities that comprise this man “Hombre”. We learn a li
Amanda G. Stevens
Feb 15, 2016 Amanda G. Stevens rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. The narrator doesn't quite work for me. He's a flat mouthpiece to tell us about John Russell; he doesn't possess much personality of his own. In addition, I was over the explanatory asides long before the end of this 200-page novel. The narrator often literally asks us, "Do you see what he was doing/why he did that? It was because ..." Yes, I know, I just read the scene. And I'm betting at least twenty exclamation points were used in this novel as well! Or more than twenty! Usually in ...more
Jeff Fuller
Feb 08, 2016 Jeff Fuller rated it really liked it
This is a solid 3.5 stars but I rounded up. It is a classic western story and well worth the read
Sep 10, 2015 Mac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recently, I wrote a mixed review of Zane Grey's western classic Riders of the Purple Sage where I found an engrossing plot--an old fashioned page turner--burdened by overly ornate, distracting prose and cumbersome dialogue. In response, a friend suggested I try an Elmore Leonard western, and I'm very glad I did. Hombre is just what I was looking for--a traditional western featuring crisp, realistic dialogue and spare prose that never detracts from the story. It's a good tale, well told.

One reser
Larry Edwards
Sep 23, 2015 Larry Edwards rated it it was amazing
Thorndike Press, 1961

Genre: Western

Location: Arizona

This is my favorite Elmore Leonard story — great character study.

Jack Russell (aka: Hombre) is half-white, half-Mexican, but looks, dresses and acts like an Apache — except for his blue eyes. After living with the Apaches for many years, including serving as a member of the tribal police on the San Carlos reservation, he inherits property from the man who gave him his name: Russell.

Jack gets a haircut and puts on white-man clothes to go settle
Oct 13, 2014 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this following a Writers mag article on EL. Was interesting to consider his dialogue based style of writing. Good even though its a cowboy type tale.
Dec 14, 2015 Gary rated it liked it
No surprises here. Hombre has the classic plot of an imperiled group of people who discover their only salvation lies in the outcast among them. But though the plot is classic--some might say cliched--the magic in any story lies in the telling. Elmore Leonard does it well. Though I knew the turns the story was going to take, I enjoyed taking the ride again because I was being led by a master storyteller.

Incidentally, having never seen the movie, I watched it after reading the book. Though the s
Jul 23, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western, googlebook
Leonard's sparse and moving prose -- you can see why he did screenplays with his ear for dialog and character studies.

Also a brilliant examination at ethics: the American Frontier as the prefect embodiment of the Locke's State of Nature.
Thomas Tyrer
May 18, 2014 Thomas Tyrer rated it really liked it
I recommended to my teenaged son yesterday that he read "Hombre" because it reminded me of one of the books the influenced him early on, "The Old Man and the Sea." "Hombre" is a short novella (about 200 pages) about what it means to be a man. Its language is precise and its characters, though there is relatively little character development, are clear in their motives and actions. I had heard about Elmore Leonard and yet never read him until picking up his complete collection of Western short st ...more
Daniel Levin
Nov 01, 2014 Daniel Levin rated it really liked it
Effective, rough, classic western

Elmore Leonard is really good at this. It is only totally classic western: silent enigmatic characters, hyper-pride, violence, but Leonard does it really well.

I love the descriptions of the life-or-death strategy of the combat, which are so convincing. It feels like it was written with input by real master gunmen: terrain, slope, direction of sun, ammunition...

His non-Western books (Rum Punch, Raylan) are more funny and have more intricate plots. The westerns a
Aug 07, 2009 Norm rated it it was amazing
Great book. A thriller. A movie was made on this book starring Paul Neuman way back. A must read for western novel fans.
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Elmore John Leonard lived in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Memphis before settling in Detroit in 1935. After serving in the navy, he studied English literature at the University of Detroit where he entered a short story competition. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into m ...more
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