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The Sea Of Grass

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  456 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Published in 1936, this novel presents in epic scope the conflicts in the settling of the American Southwest. Set in New Mexico in the late 19th century, The Sea of Grass concerns the often violent clashes between the pioneering ranchers, whose cattle range freely through the vast sea of grass, and the farmers, or "nesters," who build fences and turn the sod. Against this ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published July 1st 1992 by Ohio University Press (first published 1936)
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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
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The lusty pioneer blood is tamed now, broken and gelded like the wild horse and the frontier settlement

I agree with whichever reviewer said that this story needs a mow.

Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book, many authors would have written this story with many more words, but the author paints a wonderful full picture of the southwest and tells a powerful, heart and spirit moving story, with few words. I have read two of his books now and I will be reading more.
Alan Marchant
Jul 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, historical
needs a good mowing

The Sea of Grass is a tour-de-force of artistic prose. Conrad Richter's word painting of New Mexico at the end of the cowboy era is chock full of delightful metaphors and imagery.

The problem is that all that poetic language crowds out the dialog and characterization. So the story of macho Colonel Brewton and his mail-order bride falls as flat as a limp tortilla. The affection and forgiveness that Brewton lavishes on his whorish and supercilious wife is understandable only as a
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I had forgotten how much I liked Conrad Richter. This is a short novel, so a quick read. He spins a good tale and writes beautifully. "And when I fell asleep I dreamed that something vaguely beautiful had gone out of this massive ranch house like the kernel of life out of a prairie seed, and all that remained was the brown shell of adobe walls staring from its empty sockets." I think he may have other books I haven't yet read. I will look for them.
Alexis Neal
In the late 1800s, the Southwestern United States was the domain of the cattle baron. Herds of cattle roamed vast stretches of prairie; plump, like plump, four-legged fish in a sea of grass. That is, until farmers, or 'nesters', from the east swarm the plains, eager to carve up the expanse and try their hands at coaxing crops from the dry soil. With rancher Jim Brewton on one side and ambitious blonde attorney Brice Chamberlain on the other, conflict seems inevitable. When Brewton marries a city ...more
Morgan Plant
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I started this last night when I couldn't sleep and finished it this morning. It is quick but lovely. Conrad Richter wrote it in 1936 and a movie starring Spencer Tracy was made of the story. Now I want to find the film. Set in New Mexico in early 1900s maybe. I just checked and New Mexico became a state in 1912. Lyrical descriptions of the land, good story (independent woman character included) and great depiction of the tension between the farmer and the cowmen.
Jul 09, 2011 rated it liked it
For a small book, this packs a pretty big punch. The characters are drawn almost larger than life, and the tensions -- between various individuals, as well as between ranchers and "nesters" -- make this an intense story first of all, though it also paints a vivid picture of a past time on the plains of New Mexico.
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Sea of Grass seems, if anything, better than I remembered from my first reading of probably 40 years ago. And the historical setting was much more meaningful having just read Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Graceful, beautiful, evocative writing. Characters are deeply drawn, though the writing is very concise. Amazing work. I'm going to read more by Conrad Richter!
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one day--probably 4 hours. It was great. Highly recommended.

This is the best review I could find:
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
I read this in a day over the weekend and then plum forgot to even log it here. I suppose it's because it was such a short book, but unfortunately I think it's really because I just put it out of my mind that quickly.

I'm normally all about early American fiction, even of the Southwestern variety, but this one barely made an impression on me. It's the story of Colonel Jim Brewton, his wife Lutie and another man, and of course there's a bit of a triangle. The writing isn't horrible, but it's like
John Whittemore
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as an old ratty paperback when I was about 12, but the impression of Colonel Brewton is still strong in my mind.

This powerful man's graceful fall from influence and his relationship with his sons is something I still remember two decades later. It was my first interaction with a character so well written and complex that I believed in him. His struggles and failures mattered to me.

I really should read this book again, but I hesitate wondering if all the "great literature" I have
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-reads, fiction
This was required reading in a Literary Genre class I took about novels. I’ll keep this short since I can’t say the novel had a big impact on me. However, the themes and characters are classical as billed. I love the energy and romanticism of frontier stories and the gritty determination of frontier characters. The only fault I could really find in this novel is I didn’t find it memorable. And that isn’t much of a fault in the context of a well-crafted story. A novel doesn’t have to wind up a ...more
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a rather unusual book. It is short and a quick read. It is told from the point of view of a character who is not one of the main characters. This means he doesn't always know everything that takes place or why characters do the things they do. I found that a bit unsatisfactory. It is sort of a western set in New Mexico in the 1800s when the land was being homesteaded. It deals with the conflict between ranchers and homesteaders. There are some very larger-than-life characters and I ...more
Rita Graham
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it
The author created an impression of the frontier that was terrifying but convincing. It was more a story of the unsettled territory and the struggle between a cattle rancher and homesteaders than a character study. The main characters were convincing but not as important to the author as depicting the essence of the frontier. A powerful work for anyone who is interested in the settling of the west.
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
The writing in the book is tight and focused. There are tightly controlled lyric passages. The picture of the period in the West is graphic. The story is trite in many ways, but the control makes it work. The ruin of the range mentality is carefully revealed in a somewhat parallel story. While I liked the book, I am grateful it is short, and may not have read a longer book by Richter. And the end is interesting; his Uncle's final words are a great resolution.
Joseph Gendron
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book; it was a quick and interesting read. The subject of the transformation of the land by settlement reasonated with me as I have seen the same effect where I live in a rural area of southwest NM. 35 years ago there was so much more open space in its natural state, now there is fencing, dogs, and an overgrazed landscape by the people who bought "ranchettes" to keep horses.
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
This was our book group selection for February. I liked it in terms of a contrast to the Little House On The Prairie series we are reading aloud to the kids, because this book is told from the perspective of the white and Mexican ranchers who preceded the agricultural settlers in the southwestern U.S. The story focuses on a fallen woman who refuses to fall, and her son.
Jim Jones
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
A poor man's Willa Cather or Cormac McCarthy, but still very moving (if over flowery in the language department). This is the story of the settling of the Plains of NM which not only explores the struggle to tame an environment but also to tame our loves and desires. Richter's writing gives the story a mythical, elemental and timeless quality.
Apr 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
A classic southwestern tale written. Conrad Richter's makes the story and the characters come alive. He artfully weaves a tale of individuals into the changing society of the desert southwest as a new lifestyle entered the country and altered the landscape and way of life forever. A wonderful literary alternative for lovers of the prolific Louis L'Amour westerns.
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
A quick read about the changing American Southwest. Don't read this for the plot (though it's pretty close to Gilead), read it for the descriptions of the land and the people.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I finished the book and I found it boring. The author did good at making and developing characters, but the plot was boring. I would not read it again, but recommend it to someone who likes historical fiction.
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a great quick read - only 150 pages. It was written back in 1930 about the time when cattlemen and settlers were battling over the southwestern prairies. The descriptions are so vivid you feel like you are right there.
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Loved the writing and the story, lovely.
Yvonne Carter
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Story told through the eyes of the nephew of an uncle who had a vast cattle ranch, sacrificing much to settle the plains.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. Love these stories about the American west. Good character development and an engaging story.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa-new-mexico
Sad but beautifully written novel. Very interesting snapshot of a unique period in American history.
I loved the writing, I loved the story...but the end? Now that left something to be desired. There were a few seemingly pointless incidents and then....huh. But it was lovely...
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very much enjoyed--touching story about a changing time.
Aug 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
American southwest story - simple and masterfully told.
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Conrad Michael Richter (October 13, 1890 – October 30, 1968) was an American novelist whose lyrical work is concerned largely with life on the American frontier in various periods. His novel The Town (1950), the last story of his trilogy The Awakening Land about the Ohio frontier, won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[1] His novel The Waters of Kronos won the 1961 National Book Award for ...more
“The brilliant sunshine lay like a golden shawl over the rich mountain city that morning my train set me down for the first time in my life in young Denver. The names of strange railroads incited me from the sides of locomotives at the depot. As I passed up 17th Street a babble of voices from the doors of clothing stores, auction houses and pawn broker shops coaxed and flattered me with 'Sir' and 'Young Gentleman'. There was something in the streets I walked that morning, in the costly dress of the ladies in passing carriages, in the very air that swept down from the mountains, something lavish, dashing and sparkling, like Lutie Brewton herself, and I thought I began to understand a little of her fever for this prodigal place that was growing by leaps and bounds.” 1 likes
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