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The Log of a Cowboy: A Narrative of the Old Trail Days

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3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  309 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
A classic fictional chronicle of life on the open trail, THE LOG OF A COWBOY has long been considered the best and most reliable account of real cowboy life ever written.
In the years following the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Andy Adams left his home in the San Antonio Valley and took to the range. Here he charts his first journey as a bona fide cowboy, from south Texas to
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 20th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1903)
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Ted
3 stars. This book was published in 1903. The author, Andy Adams, was born in 1859 in Indiana, grew up on a livestock farm there, and eventually became a cowboy in Texas in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. He knew cattle drives from personal experience, and after leaving the horseback life, moved to Colorado and began writing fiction about what he knew best: cowboys and cattle.

I’ve seen it claimed in reviews here on Goodreads that Larry McMurtry used this book as a source for his
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Spbayer
May 12, 2009 Spbayer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andy Adams was a cowboy for 12 years. In 1903, flat broke and annoyed by the plethora of ridiculous books that purported to depict the true-life adventures of cowboys, he decided to try his own hand at writing a novel. The result is a beautifully written book, filled with fascinating detail of everyday life on the trail in 1882, as a team of 12 cowhands, 1 cook, 1 horse wrangler and a foreman drive 3100 cattle from Brownsville, Texas to the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Montana.
Annette
Andy Adams (1903, 1981). The Log of a Cowboy: A Narrative of the Old Trail Days. Time-Life Books Inc.[return]Set in the late 1800s, Adam's tale is often listed as the best account of cowboy life ever written. The author condensed a dozen year's work experience in the saddle into this book about a five-month cattle drive - - delivery of three thousand head from the mouth of the Rio Grande river (near Brownsville) in southwest Texas to government buyers at the Blackfoot Indian Agency in northwest ...more
Ron
Apr 18, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: early-westerns
Andy Adams was a prolific writer, and thanks to the University of Nebraska Press, some of this former cowboy's output is still in print. This true-to-life story of an 1882 cattle drive is his best known, and its retelling 100 years later in Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" is evidence of its importance among early works of Western fiction.

Here the protagonist is a young cowboy much like the author, who trailed beef from Texas to Montana at a time just after the buffalo herds were being extinguis
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Chris Sherman
Dec 10, 2010 Chris Sherman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. Its less about being a cowboy specifically than it is about a broader unique way of life--leaving home far behind you and striking out on a journey with a group of people. Loggers, whalers, Navy sailors, oil derrick operators. There are few occupations that isolate you to face adversity with a group of relative strangers bound only by a common skill and a will to get paid. I've experienced it and this combined with appealing characters, an ever present sense of adventure, an ...more
Sharon
It took me awhile to get into this book as I at first found the narration rather dry. But the further I got into it the more I appreciated it's honest representation of what life on a cattle drive of the old west must have been like. Without the flourish of a western novel, but rather a real picture of the daily life and tribulations of a cattle drive in the 1880s. I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.
Cindy Winder delong
Aug 20, 2012 Cindy Winder delong rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, nook
I enjoyed this book. I found it fascinating and interesting. I loved learning how different things were without our modern technology. I was sad when the book ended, I wanted it to continue so that I could learn what a train ride was like and how the reunion with their families went. The version I read was free for my Nook. The formatting and copying were poor quality but I was still able to understand most of it. I would have enjoyed it more if I had read a copy with better formatting and editi ...more
Joan
A slow and sometimes ponderous story about a young man on a cattle drive. Not particularly thrilling if you prefer a fast moving novels but this, like The Virginian is a wonderfully atmospheric story about life in the era after the Civil War.

Not much happens really. Cattle move from one place to another, there are stampedes and rivers to cross and droughts to overcome and tall tales round the camp fires, but that is the beauty of this book. Like The Virginian, it shows us the huge expanse of la
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Christopher Newton
Well-written account of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in the year 1882. For the first time I understood what cowboys actually did in addition to strumming guitars and blasting away with their six-shooters - though they do some of that too.
K.
May 29, 2012 K. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Cowboy lovers, Western history lovers
Really probably at least 3 1/2 stars for being fascinating without being mind-blowing or life-changing ;)

This was a great read! I never would have thought! I mean, I like a good Western, but I don't think this really qualifies in the "Western" genre except that it concerns cows and cowboys and sometimes guns. Really its exactly what it says it is, a "Log"--a diary of sorts of one cowboy's trail drive from the Gulf of Mexico to Montana. Over 2400 miles, 3500 cows, took just over 5 months. It has
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Yvonne Jocks
May 29, 2013 Yvonne Jocks rated it it was amazing
Log of a Cowboy is one of those books that people keep mistaking for non-fiction. It's not non-fiction; it's a novel. But the mistake is understandable. For one thing, it reads like a memoir. For another, the author did in fact go on several trail drives during the period he's discussing, and wow does he know his stuff about horses, cattle drives, and the the people who worked with both--this makes it one of the few novels that also works well for research.

After a brief biographical start about
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Kyra Halland
I needed to do some basic research on what it was like to be on a cattle drive in the late 1800s, and this memoir-style novel, written by someone who actually was a working cowboy on cattle drives in the 1880s, was a painless way to learn what I needed. The way the drives worked, the different characters on the drive and along the way, and the account of daily life on the drive were all fascinating. Since it's not a novel with a structured conflict-climax-resolution plot but rather, as the title ...more
Jeff
Jan 20, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it
"The Log of a Cowboy", Andy Adams. 1905. The American Western is a genre that has been played out, diluted and distorted by hundreds of inexpensive films and cheap dime novels. It is a unique experience to read a basically unmolested, authentic, first hand account of an American cowboy of the 1880's. Andy Adams's book is based on his experiences working cattle for two season from north of the Rio Grande up though eastern Montana. Adams affectionately names his black gelding "Nigger Boy". As anyo ...more
Jill Althage
Jun 12, 2012 Jill Althage rated it really liked it
I think that this is an excellent look into what it was like to be a cowboy in the 1800s in the west. You ride along with the cowboys as they head off stampedes, cattle rustlers, town brawls, and dangerous river crossings. You can visualize the sounds and smells as this cowboy tells of the adventure. It is written by a white man of the period and you'll see areas that will make you uncomfortable as when he names his black horse, treatment of an Indian woman, and his description of cornering and ...more
Will Stolhand
Dec 18, 2015 Will Stolhand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

Great account of what life was like on cattle drive. The good and the bad . Enjoyed reading this book.
Jeremy Trumble
It pretty much does not get any more authentic than this novel for what life was like out on the cattle drives...
Skip Essma
Apr 13, 2015 Skip Essma rated it it was amazing
Great narrative. Really gives a sense of life as a cowboy in the old West.
Joel
Oct 04, 2014 Joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: secret wanna-be cowboys.
I read this back in the day, soon after my life on horseback ended and the pains of leaving that life were fresh in my mind. It was a fabulous book, especially if you want the romantic part of being amongst thousands of wild cattle on completely open range for weeks and months on end. This story, autobiography, outlines the lives cowboys, real cowboys, lived. If you really begin to actually dissect what the author is saying, the romanticism fades and a harsh reality of life in the Old West is di ...more
Barry
Nov 24, 2014 Barry rated it liked it
More 21/2 stars than 3 but still enjoyable. Not a western per see but a novelization of America history The story of a cattle drive.
David
Jan 26, 2009 David rated it really liked it
This was written more than 100 years ago, and Larry McMurtry obviously used it as a model for Lonesome Dove. The cowboys take the same exact path from South Texas to Montana, and go through the same town. It's not on the level of a Lonesome Dove, mind you, but it is interesting reading for any fan of McMurtry's series..... I'd give it two stars for writing, but I ended up giving it four because I'm a fan of Gus and Call, and I enjoyed following the trail again.
Sue
Adams' wrote Log of a Cowboy in 1903 recounting his trail days in the 1880's driving a herd of cows from Mexico to the Blackfoot Agency in Northern Montana. Six months on the trail sleeping on the ground, long hours in the saddle covering 20 miles a day or less, living with the changing landscape and the vagaries of weather. Truly a wonderful account of a life that we can only try to understand through the author's words.
Kristin
Jul 14, 2015 Kristin rated it liked it
Shelves: research, cowboys
I read this mainly for little bits of language I could steal for poetry--and it was full of gems!

Other than that, I don't really recommend the book, unless you're interested in the cowboy life; but it's fiction, and there are better nonfiction works in that regard. Bottom line: good, quick-reading story without much else going for it.
Jim Lander
Mar 08, 2013 Jim Lander rated it it was amazing
An excellent book which I read from Project Guttenburg. I like this author's narrative style. It offers a more fully developed view of cowboy life than we get from the TV or moveis. Worth the time to read, particularly if you are a fan of the Old West. There were a few spelling typos from the process of putting the book into P.G..
Jim Corson
Sep 02, 2013 Jim Corson rated it it was amazing
This book was published in 1902 and is a fictionalized history of a trail drive from Mexico to Montana. It is considered to be the best rendition of what a cattle drive was really like back in the late 1800's. Well worth the read if you are interested in cowboy history.
Kelly
Jul 01, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
The narration style reminded me of listening to my grandpa tell stories. It was very easy-going, even during the most exciting moments. A Western that feels no need to add romance or gun fights just to spice things up, but lets the action unfold realistically.
Dona Smith
Mar 21, 2016 Dona Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read. Good cattle drive story with great detail of events.
Jim
Dec 20, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing
An interesting first hand account of a cattle drive from the southeastern most tip of Texas to the Yellowstone area of Montana. Well written. Somewhat sanitized, but includes vernacular of the day.
Nicholas
Oct 26, 2012 Nicholas rated it liked it
Shelves: westerns
A valuable insight into the real life of a cowhand on a a long cattle drive. A few too many river crossing descriptions for my taste and a flat ending, but, on the whole, an interesting read.
Arithmomaniac
Aug 09, 2011 Arithmomaniac rated it it was amazing
If you find normal Westerns too cliche, but want to know what it really was like, this is the book. I learned something on nearly every page, and it was an entertaining read.
Bill
Feb 24, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing
I really liked the narrative style, and it held my interest and I learned a lot of things. Very good Western style book, and would recommend it to anyone.
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Andy Adams (1859–1935) was born to pioneer parents in Indiana, worked in Texas for ten years driving cattle, and settled in Colorado Springs, where he began writing his "real" stories of cowboys in the West.

While still in his teens, Adams ran away from home. He eventually made his way to Texas, where he found work as a cowboy. From 1882 to 1893, Adams witnessed firsthand the golden era of the Texa
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“Now a little boy or girl, and many an older person, thinks that a spotted horse is the real thing, but practical cattle men know that this freak of color in range-bred horses is the result of in-and-in breeding, with consequent physical and mental deterioration.” 0 likes
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