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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,345 ratings  ·  96 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,168)
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Cathy DuPont
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.
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...more
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...more
Jul 10, 2011 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
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

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...more
Donna Brown
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...more
Mar 23, 2013 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
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.
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
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
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...more
Alex Gherzo
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...more
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.

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.
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
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
Great book. A thriller. A movie was made on this book starring Paul Neuman way back. A must read for western novel fans.
As I said in my review of Open Range, "like most good westerns, this is a small story about small (as in unimportant) people -- no saving the world here, just a few good men trying to get along in a changing world." However, while Leonard remains a truly great writer, this was one of his earlier works and just doesn't hold up as well as such other classics as True Grit, which came just eight years later. More a novella than a real novel, this is a good but not great novel, more notable for the i...more
The only novel in recent years that I’ve read in one day. Reading it makes me want to find others who have, so we can discuss it. Leonard raises questions he does not answer, not in an infuriating manner like some avant-garde authors who think they are “thought-provoking”, but in a genuinely soul-searching manner.

Were the characters justified in their action and inaction? Was the McLaren girl justified in what she said to Russell? Which characters could be proud of their behavior during the time...more
Jun 05, 2014 Alec rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: blog
This isn't great literature, but it is diverting genre fiction; perhaps best enjoyed while sitting before a warm campfire. Hombre is the intellectual equivalent of an old dime novel: A two-fisted tale with bespurred heroes and sombreroed villains albeit lightly shaded with 1960's moral ambiguity.

Like most of Elmore Leonard's yarns, Hombre is well-spun, and Leonard unspools his plot-threads with a plainspoken directness that a Missouri sod-buster would admire. Set in the 1880s, a light-eyed Span...more
Six travelers on the final run of a stage line encounter gunmen in the desert. How they survive (or don't) makes for an interesting short novel--one that was transformed into a striking movie several years later. The book's dialogue is tersely eloquent. Most survives in the movie version, though Leonard added additional dialogue to accommodate an extra character. (There is a scene in the movie in which the three women in it--there are two in the novel--discuss men that contains some tremendous d...more
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...more
Jim Elkins
I never read mysteries, I never read Westerns, I never read thrillers. I read this in order to think about something that would contrast against the books I usually read. It was an interesting exercise. It's a "classic Western" (although it's not at all clear what that expression means), written, distantly, in emulation of Hemingway.[return][return]Leonard wants to demonstrate the simplest form of moral judgment, one that depends on avoiding passions and complexities, and minimizing communicatio...more
Elmore Leonard made two very interesting points in a radio interview. Firstly he said that he tries to avoid description of a character's features so that the reader can decide for themselves about their appearance (hence Jackie Burke, 275lb hunk of prime white American beefcake in his novel Rum Punch becomes a diminutive, black air stewardess in Tarantino's film of the book - possibly; I haven't read Rum Punch) and also that if you introduce a gun into a novel somebody had better shoot with it...more
I'm not normally one for Westerns, either when it comes to books or any other medium, but I have always been interested in checking out Elmore Leonard as an author. I've seen plenty of Hollywood adaptations of his work, and they're very different I would guess to Hombre - a very interesting story about race and creed, not to mention mythologising a man through a fascinating first-person, diary-approach to Leonard's storytelling here. It both distances and serves to deepen our main character, a l...more
Julian Howland
“Take a good look at Russell. You will never see another one like him as long as you live.”

It starts the day the stagecoach leaves Sweetmary. Up in the hills, taking what was supposed to be a short cut, outlaws stop the coach. They know one of the passengers has money, but they don’t manage to get it. Instead they bust up the coach, steal the water, and take a passenger’s wife prisoner. Stranded and thirsty, the remaining passengers decide to follow a fellow passenger named Russell. Raised by Ap...more
First class western told from first person point of view. Felt as though I was hearing the tale while sitting around a campfire! This simple style add to the depth of each character. The best and worse appear from each as the stresses of being hunted and the environment way heavily on the troupe. Never saw the movie but plan to. Hope I'm not disappointed!
Don Massenzio
Another winner by Elmore Leonard. The interesting thing about this book is that it is told in first person by someone who observes the strong/silent anti-hero in this book. Once again, the anti-hero does things in a mysterious way and ends up doing the unexpected. It is told from one characters point of view as a kind of journalistic narrative. I'm on to his detective novels next, but I did enjoy these westerns.
After my marathon learning experience about Westerns reading "The Arbor House Treasury of Great Westerns" and after Elmore Leonard's death, I decided to read "Hombre" and give Westerns their best shot. And while this is good writing and is morally correct and moves along briskly, I have to say that the Western genre is crippled by having no connection to reality or historical fact. At some level, it makes no difference whether Hombre saves the people in the stagecoach or not, because none of thi...more
The first chapter did not get my attention; however, when I got to chapter 2 I could not put it down. If I had not been in a book club, I would have never picked up this book to read . I will definitely be reading more of his novels. Characters were great and well written.
Alison McLennan
This is just totally unpretentious story-telling with an authentic voice. Descriptive but not to the point of agony. Romance as understated as it gets. The violence is part of the story, not for entertainment. Makes me sad Elmore and the Western are dead.
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American Westerns: I recently read Hombre 4 12 Mar 24, 2014 09:27AM  
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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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