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The Way West

(The Big Sky #2)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  5,053 ratings  ·  258 reviews
An enormously entertaining classic, THE WAY WEST brings to life the adventure of the western passage and the pioneer spirit. The sequel to THE BIG SKY, this celebrated novel charts a frontiersman's return to the untamed West in 1846. Dick Summers, as pilot of a wagon train, guides a group of settlers on the difficult journey from Missouri to Oregon. In sensitive but unsent ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 9th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published 1949)
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This is not Lonesome Dove, but it is a damn fine story.

It is an American story, a fictional novel about travelers on The Oregon Trail, but it is appealing to all people, as it is about all people. The "humble, hurtful, anxious, hoping," as Mr. Guthrie says.

As a former Lit teacher, I could go nuts here, telling you how brilliant the writing, how subtle the metaphors, how well crafted the characters. . . but I will instead just advise you to discover it yourself.

I don't know what competition Mr.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western
No prize came easy. Free land still had its price. A chance at better living had somehow to be earned. A nation couldn't grow unless somebody dared. The price was high, but who would say it was too high - except for those who'd paid so dear?

This is the second book in A.B. Guthrie Jr.'s Big Sky series. In this adventure, skilled frontiersman Dick Summers, one of my favorite characters from the first book, must guide a group of "soft" farmers from Missouri to the promised land of Oregon.

They wer
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A group of farmers desire to pack up and move from Missouri to Oregon. Sounds like a good idea, because Missouri has chiggers that keep you scratching and itching for weeks. Then it has the blasting heat and humidity that makes life just miserable. But for whatever reason they didn't talk about leaving for those reasons. They just wanted to go. Maybe they were tired of farming and thought that fishing in the ocean off the Oregon coast was a better idea. Okay, maybe it is a better idea, but they ...more
RJ from the LBC
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzer
"The sun was sliding down the western sky, showing through the tail of a cloud. Likely it would be fair tomorrow and he would have to dig and grub and split and bend and lift and jolt as if his life depended on it, which it did. A man didn't make history, staying close to home."

Guthrie's Pulitzer-Prize winner follows mountain man Dick Summers, a character from The Big Sky, as he leads settlers west from Missouri along what would become the Oregon Trail. The hardscrabble life of a pioneer is blun
Tara Rock
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 Stars.
Adrian White
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like the wagon train it describes, I thought this was a little slow to get started and it suffered in comparison to the masterpiece that is The Big Sky. But then it gathered momentum and the characters came into their own. By the end, it put me in mind of The Grapes of Wrath - with its emphasis on the foibles on humanity in the face of such awesome obstacles and the trials of life.
Sherry H
This book, a Pulitzer Winner, has 724 ratings and 57 reviews, as of this review. Let's start a campaign, my friends! This book is WONDERFUL! What's everyone waiting for?

The Way West is the story of a wagon train travelling from Missouri to Oregon in the 1840's.

Different from A. B. Guthrie Jr.'s earlier novel, The Big Sky, which was about mountain men travelling in the same general area, this one has a train filled with families. Life on the trail, with womenfolk, is both harder and less harsh t
David Ranseen
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
robin friedman
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Way West

Popular and even genre novels have won the Pulitzer Prize when they have met the criteria of literary excellence and depiction of American experience. Thus, in 1950, A.B. Guthrie, Jr. received the Pulitzer for “The Way West” (1949). The second in a sequence of six westerns that Guthrie wrote between 1947 and 1982, “The Way West” and its predecessor, “The Big Sky” (1947), are the best known.

Guthrie (1901 – 1991) wrote “The Way West” while working as a reporter in Lexington, Kentucky
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. I've been obsessed with The Oregon Trail since I first saw Independence! and nine of its sequels on my mom's bookshelf when I was 7. Because of my obsession, I would never have thought that my predominant emotion over a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about the Oregon Trail would be boredom. They're were things to like in the characters and their interactions but this ultimately felt like a series of interactions between people, and they're was far too little about the actual wagon train ...more
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I hadn’t read, indeed hadn’t thought of, a Guthrie since The Big Sky, lo, these many years past. A buddy got hooked on him recently and has read all six of the Guthrie settling-of-the-west series in the last year or so. I finally decided to join him for at least part of the trip. The Way West, an Oregon Trail wagon train tale, is a sequel to The Big Sky, which is a mountain man saga. It received the 1950 Pulitzer and became a big film in 1967 starring Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, so it has ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Let's be clear! I love Westerns as a genre-movies, books and even TV. I had a positive outlook as I began this book, since I enjoy a good "oater", and the author, A.B. Guthrie won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1950. The novel did not disappoint.

A group of farmers in Missouri decide to make the perilous journey from their homesteads to the wilds of Oregon. Some of the train members have come from further east, seeking a new start. To call this adventure perilous is certainly an understatemen
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it
A well-researched, historically informed story of a band of settlers going from Missouri to Oregon in 1845.
Mr. Guthrie writes well, but not graphically, about the rigors of the trail. His real interest is in the mindset and motivation of his characters. It was years ago that I read The Big Sky, his original epic story about the development of the west, so my recollection may not be reliable, but I remember it as being more exciting than The Way West, with more action. This book is more of a pae
Christine Boyer
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Nature lovers, western lit, Oregon trail
Recommended to Christine by: Julie
Pulitzer Prize - 1950. So good! I'm sad for the story to be over, happy for Lije Evans and his family, and amazed at the strong writing here.

In November I read "Big Sky", which Mr. Guthrie wrote a year prior to this novel. I gave it 4 well-deserved stars, but I struggled through the dialect. Also, I thought when I opened this one that it was a sequel to the first. IT IS NOT. No big deal, but just don't go into this one thinking you'll get some resolution on the first. The only "carry-over" chara
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book by A.B. Guthrie Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. If you like western novels written about the 1800's this is your book. The writing and character development in this book are well done detailing the trip across country from Missouri to the Oregon territory via covered wagon. I liked the 1986 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry better, but I still give this book 5 stars. ...more
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All lovers of good literature!
Shelves: read-own
This book is a classic for a reason. Read it if you love characters that become so real, you yearn for a sequel because you can't let them go. Read it if you love well written historical fiction. Just read it! It's amazing. ...more
Jun 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer
This was a good read, especially for a Western. Infinitely better than Lonesome Dove, with less predictable tropes and better writing. I liked the characters and was fairly vested in them, and the pacing was well done.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Owen by: Pulitzer Prize Board
During the summertime, when my grandfather was alive, we normally ate on his back porch, which overlooked the lake bellow us. I remember one after-dinner discussion: He confessed that he himself had tried his hand at a few short stories before he became an attorney. He said he wrote “westerns,” little pulpish stories with sentences like, “He shot the bartender in the face, and rolled underneath table and took aim again. They were just now drawing their pistols. He fired twice. The big feller top ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzers-read
This book kinda grew on me. In the end, I liked it just fine. But I didn’t find it to be such exceptional writing, nor such a profound story. It was a nice, competent, satisfying western that captured and rather glorified the story of the Oregon trail migration. There was just a tad bit too much of “nation-building” purpose in the story, which I didn’t find too endearing. It glossed over the tragedy of this westward move on Native American peoples. It elevated a kind of romantic heroism of front ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I opened this old hardback book, from 1949, intending to take a quick look and then discard along with many other old books that I have had buried in bins. In fairness to the books, I start reading them and then decide how quickly they get kicked out of the house.

On the first page of this book, however, the mention of Oregon and the idea that the folks were talking about traveling there -- interested me enough to keep reading. The time was in the 1840's and the trip was from Independence, Missou
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, 2019, fiction
Every now and then I find a book that I don’t want to finish, the characters having become like old and comfortable friends, their stories written with great depth and sympathy of the human condition. That was this book for me. The Way West is A.B. Guthrie, Jr’s sequel to The Big Sky, and was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1950.

This book about a small group of travelers setting out for Oregon in 1846 (although a little bit of research showed that by then most wagon trains were head
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Big Sky >
Steve Shilstone
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The definitive wagon train novel written by the definitive mountain man novel's author. Presents a rich array of true to life characters, men and women. ...more
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Way West by A. B. Guthrie
Wonderful, exhilarating story

This is an outstanding book about courage, determination, resilience, discovery, grit, kindness and tenacity.
The other side of human beings is also present, with treachery, cruelty, avarice, arrogance, lust and pure evil.
I am developing an interest in “Injuns”, if my latest favorites are anything to go by, where Native Americans are at center stage.
It is true that in The Way West the white folks are more or less taking the territory from
Lynette Lark
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book (and it seems as of late, I'm the only one who's read it!). I remember starting it after finishing "Icy Sparks," but decided that since "Icy Sparks" was such a heavy read, I needed something "different." Haha! So I read "Fail-Safe" instead which is by no means a "lighter" read. Literally. After "Fail-Safe, I began anew "The Way West" and loved it! Sometimes a book just doesn't hit home at first and you have to put it down until it's time. (In my case, "Gone With the Wind" is a ...more
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
With The Way West, AB Guthrie has really captured a moment in American history. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the characters; this narrative form allows Guthrie to move the story ahead economically while simultaneously expanding on the reader's understanding of the characters by focusing on their thoughts about those events. The characters thus become fully fleshed out and easy to understand, even when their actions are less than savory.

This novel is also adept at evokin
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
So happy to be back in the west when the landscape was pure and the resources plentiful. Guthrie again captivated me as he painted the landscape with words. This story tells of the migration from the Missouri to Oregon and all the challenges the pioneers faced. It begins with the excitement of a new adventure and as it unfolds the reader feels the emotions the adventurers experience as they travel through hardships, losses and joy in the journey. Guthrie does a good job defining perseverance thr ...more
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
This historical novel won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize. I found an old copy from 1952 in a used bookstore. It originally sold for 35 cents;I paid a dollar. It should be a fun read and it should be interesting to see how it stands up against the real history.

I tried to like it but never could. Guthrie writes as a voice of the pioneers. I found myself irritated at the simple language and simple thinking of most of the characters. I am not a fan of the idea of manifest destiny and while I could somewhat
Lynn Pribus
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
My "book report" for a national magazine. (To be published next year.)

The Way West (William Sloane Associates, 1949) by A.B. Guthrie, Jr. won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It follows what Guthrie terms “the kinship of the trail” on an 1845 wagon train travelling the Oregon Trail from Independence to Ft. Vancouver. These are ordinary men and women people who, day after endless day, face an incredibly arduous journey with dangers, discouragements, and towering scenery such as they’d never s
Chris Gager
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read a Reader's Digest condensed version of this and IMHO it's not quite as good as The Big Sky. Maybe I'll read the whole thing some day and like it a bit better, but it was still pretty good. Dick Summers is a major character in this book and a semi-major character in TBS. Both books were filmed by Hollywood. TBS was pretty good, but TWW was pretty bad, despite having a big-time cast.

- I've now read 38 of the 90 Pulitzer Fiction winners. I'll keep plugging away.
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Alfred Bertram Guthrie, Jr. was an American novelist, screenwriter, historian, and literary historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction during 1950 for his novel The Way West.

After working 22 years as a news reporter and editor for the Lexington Leader, Guthrie wrote his first novel.

Ηe was able to quit his reporting job after the publication of the novels The Big Sky and The Way West (1950

Other books in the series

The Big Sky (3 books)
  • The Big Sky (The Big Sky, #1)
  • Fair Land, Fair Land (The Big Sky, #2)

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