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Education of a Wandering Man

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,131 ratings  ·  394 reviews
From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 1st 1990 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1989)
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Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
I am fascinated with how much this man read! And all the while he was making a living doing hard manual labor, traveling, writing - he inspires me to try to fit in more reading time! He must have taken advantage of EVERY spare minute.

I love his wry humor and accurate descriptions of human nature.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this for free out of a wheelbarrow of books a neighbor put out, so technically I didn't break my (loosely) self-imposed ban on buying more books before I reduced my TBR pile.

L'Amour says this isn't really an autobiography, but is supposed to focus on how he educated himself. He wanders enough to make it a pretty good, if incomplete autobiography. The byways are often more interesting than the main story. His education was mostly from reading, wandering, & talking to people, but he places
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: educators and everyone else
I looked at the number of books and also at what books they were; I had no idea he read so many "classics"--many of them are in the Great Books set or are recognized now as great literature. I have read hundreds of books, but I don't think I've read anywhere near as many "highbrow" books. I need to do the work, tackle the harder and lesser known stuff.

I'm inclined to use this as an argument against the mindset that 'everyone needs a college degree'. I recognize that now it's many many years late
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have only read two books by L'Amour, but I really enjoyed them. When I saw this book about how he educated himself by reading everything in sight, I had to read it. I have added several books to my TBR that he discussed in this book.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography-memoir
Several years ago I helped a dear old friend (he died a day after his 102nd birthday in 2009) edit his memoirs. He was not new to writing. In his younger years he had produced an interesting series of essays about his love for the farm he had purchased and the horses he rode called River Hill Soliloquy: The Story Of An Illinois Farm. It was published by the University of Illinois Press. After his death I had it reissued as an ebook. The book had a local following. The book I helped to edit years ...more
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, memoirs
No choicer gift can any man give to another than his spirit’s intimate converse with itself. Schleiermacher

I would bet that Louis L’Amour would not be in the list of the first forty authors you might guess used a Schleiermacher quote as an epigraph for a chapter deep in his education autobiography. And it wasn’t a quote he grabbed from A Speaker’s Treasury of Quotes and Anecdotes, either. L’Amour read it, among thousands of other works ranging from Homer to Aeschylus to Gogol to Marcian of Hera
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'll be the first to admit that it is a very limited audience that would adore this book as much as I did. I truly felt like I had met a kindred spirit - I would have loved to meet Mr. L'Amour and discussed books - which was his ultimate passion. I wrote down several pages of quotes from his thoughts on books.

This book was essentially a list of books that he'd read along with fragmented thoughts on how they impacted him and things he'd learned from them. He also told the story about how he obta
Rex Fuller
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is astonishing. Yes, Louis L’Amour was a western writer. Here we learn he was that in the same sense that Eisenhower was a soldier.
L'Amour tells of his incredibly broad life experience beginning as a veterinarian’s son in the then still extant West in Jamestown, North Dakota. He soon discovered schooling was interfering with his education – because it insisted he read things he already had. So he left, quite deliberately, to get that education by direct experience and reading. He worked as
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading about this man. He was so much more than just a western writer. He had one of the largest private libraries in the country in his time. But he was a very modest man and in his library his outward set of bookshelves moved to reveal an internal aet. He didn't want to intimidate anyone. Also, I remember reading that some young person told him they wished they could skip their education and live a life like he did. He told them that would be really stupid. He said instead they would ...more
Jacob Aitken
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I cut my teeth on Louis L’amour’s “shoot-em ups.” They are good stories and I had read them as such. Only on the second readings did I realize they were far more: they were wisdom literature. L’Amour’s memoir is also a form of wisdom literature. Whenever you read a major writer, you are in contact with his own mind. Reading George RR Martin likely puts you in contact with the mind of a demon. Reading Samuel Johnson puts you in contact with the noblest of humanity. L’Amour falls close to the latt ...more
Carol Bakker
My favorite book about an autodidactic learner! While I'm not a prolific writer and I haven't traveled around the world, I completely identified with L'Amour's lack of formal education, his lifelong romance with reading, and his insatiable thirst for learning.

This is the story of an adventure of education, pursued not under the best of conditions. The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, western
I grew up reading L'Amour's books and I think i''ve read them all. This is a look into his life and his experiences in his words. There is no adequate words to describe this extremely talented author. I'm not sure if it's his writing or his philosophy on life that makes him so popular even now how many years after his death. I have had the experience of trying a different western author years ago. I lasted one chapter before I went back to rereading yet again Louis L'Amour's fantastic novels. He ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir of a lifelong love affair with learning and books. Self-taught both through experience and by reading, Louis L'amour fills his account of his life with both action and reflection. The result was a story of a unique journey that I found uplifting. His list of books rivals any "great books" list that I have ever seen and suggests his signature western novels have an unexpected literary foundation. His story of a life of travel and self-education is as interesting as any but it is ...more
Celeste Batchelor
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed large portions of this book. L'Amoir only includes a short book list at the end. All the other books he mentions throughout the book. I wish he had just made a huge master list and put it in the back of the book to make referencing easier on the reader. Not that I plan to follow his list myself, but just as a neat look at what he studied over his lifetime. I wish I could look at his personal library. His history knowledge is quite extensive! I will probably never read quite ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have never read another Louis L'Amour book in my life, but after reading a brief review of this book, I picked it up at my local library. It has been one of those books that, almost 20 years after reading, I look upon as having been very influential in shaping my perspective of a specific people and time. He describes his life during the depression era as a "hobo" and is very careful to differentiate the hobos of the time from what we would consider "bums". This is the story of his traveling t ...more
Oct 01, 2007 rated it did not like it
No. I think there is a whole generation that loves his writing and I'm sure they have good reason, but his autobiography was just odd. It started out sounding like he was bragging about how many books he's read, and then it just dragged on. It seemed like everything was an excuse for him not receiving a formal education, and that his experiences were just as good. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.
It's sad that he didn't mention anything about his children or his wife, who I'm sure were very impor
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as wonderful if not more with this second read.
Stephen Hicks
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the literary memoir of Louis L’Amour, the prolific Western writer. I was pointed to this book by James V. Schall’s book, “The Life of the Mind”. If you consider yourself a lover of books then you have found a kindred spirit in Mr. L’Amour.

Growing up in the Depression Era, L’Amour left school at 15 and took off West working as a lumberjack, mine caretaker, merchant sailor, cowboy, and boxer. During this time he was reading always. The book is written in a relaxed, conversational tone and
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was never a fan of westerns but many years ago I was babysitting and forgot to bring my book. In their bookcase was nothing but westerns and most were by Mr. L’Amour so I read one and was very pleasantly surprised. It was a great story. This book is different from his westerns, he’s sharing how he educated himself by reading, traveling and listening to everyone who would share with him. He had quite a life.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read to close the year, a book about reading and a deep love of books. L’Amour was a reader’s reader. Not only does every chapter include many titles he read, but a rich bibliography is included in the back of the book. This will shape many of my future TBR lists!
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I have never read one of his books in my life. I might have to read some now. A friend recommended this as I love memoirs! I was not expecting to love this book so much.
I have to say the only part I did not like is where he says the buffalo had to go, no they didn't. White man thought the Native Americans had to go as well. I'm not in belief of any of those things as they are crap!
But onto the book! I would never have thought he was this sort of man that wandered around doing jobs here and th
Matthew Hurley
Louis L'Amour was a great man, and this is the account of how he became so — the books he read, the places he traveled, the people he knew, the stories he heard. And how he conditioned himself to evaluate and act upon knowledge, histories, human experience.

"I am not some mill that grinds out stories simply to make a living. I am a man who loves to tell stories, who loves to share what he has seen and where history has been. I would like others to enjoy, as i have, the ancient towns and the old s
This is a really good book. If you have never read any of Mr. L'Amour's books before, I would like to recommend this one as a start. It is partly a memoir, as it tells something of where he came from. But it also gives a glimpse of how his mind worked and how he handled his writing and researching. He was an interesting man and I wish I could have met him.

COYER: Read a book with a man on the cover (and no other people). (1 point)
Book-Tube-a-Thon Challenge #7: Read seven books in total. (my chall
Angie Libert
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am not much of a fan of L'Amour's westerns but I think after reading this book and really getting to know him, I will appreciate his works more. I appreciate that he saw the value in capturing the American frontier stories. He has deeply blessed the American culture. I also admire his library with over 17,000 books and two layers of 16 foot tall bookshelves. Oh, how dreamy! He inspires me to read more. :)
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Finally, I discovered someone that puts my reading list to shame. I have never read a novel of L'Amour (though I may have seen a movie based on one of books), but this was a fascinating dive into a autobiographical journey through the prism of the books that were ingested by L'Amour. From the early days of his time as a wayward laborer, aspiring prize fighter, and sometimes hobo. To the age his post-novel-career-success. Discovered lots of items to add to the "to read" pile.
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
I expected some great stories but instead got lists of all the books he's read, his thoughts on world history and being a writer. It's wonderful that's how he educated himself but I wanted cool stories from a long interesting life! Disappointed.
Camille Siddartha
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
About him, the writer...amazing!
Carol Chapin
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I have never read Louis L’Amour and would probably never have read this, except that I received a copy through a book swap (thanks, April!). This is a memoir, and L’Amour turns out to be quite an interesting fellow. The first thrust of his life – education – is described in the introduction by Daniel Boorstin, “Joys of Random Reading”. From an early age, L’Amour read everything he could get his hands on. He sought out obscure texts on subjects of his interest, personal histories of the American ...more
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really should give this five stars. I loved it. I added it to my favorites list. However, like Louis L'Amour in his youth, it does ramble a bit.

He describes the book in the book by saying, "This is a story of an adventure in education, pursued not under the best of conditions." He traveled the world with a book always in his pocket. The combination provided him the education he needed. Early on, he read whatever he could get his hands on. Later, he read the books that enabled him to write real
Oliver Sime
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: north-dakota
Ehhh.. I really wanted to like this book, but I really did not.

L'Amour starts the book by stating that he is a storyteller, but ironically he finishes the story without any coherent continuation or finish to his life story. This would be fine if that wasn't the point of the book, but it kind of is. The book has about three purposes, indiscriminately sharing his vast knowledge of history, telling his life story, and cementing the importance of books. This mix is essentially random. One moment yo
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All About "Education of a Wandering Man" 5 25 Oct 20, 2012 07:58PM  

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Louis L'Amour was an American author. L'Amour's books, primarily Western fiction, remain enormously popular, and most have gone through multiple printings. At the time of his death all 101 of his works were in print (86 novels, 14 short-story collections and one full-length work of nonfiction) and he was considered "one of the world's most popular writers".

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