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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,880 ratings  ·  302 reviews
Set in Arizona mining country, Hombre is the tale of a white man raised by Indians, who must come to the aid of people who hate him when their stagecoach is attacked by outlaws.
Paperback, 201 pages
Published March 5th 2002 by HarperTorch (first published 1961)
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Best Westerns
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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,880 ratings  ·  302 reviews

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Joe Valdez
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
Elmore Leonard is synonymous with capers, cons and contemporary sharpies chasing bags of cash, but in the 1950s and '60s, in the days of pulp magazines, John Wayne at the picture show and Gunsmoke on the small screen, Leonard operated in the western genre. His beat was the Arizona Territory of the 1870s and his frontier pieces were more war stories or tales of survival than oaters. One of the more popular is Hombre, published in 1961. Novella length, this slim volume lacks the superlative humor ...more
It's always a tricky thing reviewing an Elmore Leonard novel. His writing is usually so efficient and effortless that it doesn't seem like he's doing much but his stories sneak up on you anyway. I always struggle to go into detail about why I like the books, other than to say that I really enjoyed the story. He was able to buff and polish his style until the form became invisible and only story shined through. Donald Westlake was the same way in his work. Although there haven't been any Leonard ...more
Andy Marr
Mar 31, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Man...
Carla Remy
Apr 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
From 1961
Seemed to have the structure, set in a classic Western world, of The Great Gatsby. Just in that the first person narrator, here Carl Allen, tells the story of the hero, the titular Hombre, John Russell. You know, like Nick Carroway and Jay Gatsby. So at some point I was like, I think I know how this has to end.
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 it comin
robin friedman
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why John Russell Is Hombre

The crime and suspense novelist Elmore Leonard (1925 -- 2013) began as a writer of westerns. The Library of America has recently published a volume of four Leonard western novels, including "Hombre", and eight short stories to accompany its three earlier volumes of Leonard's crime fiction.

Although an early work, "Hombre" may be Leonard's best-known novel. First published in 1961 as a paperback original, "Hombre" became famous in the 1967 film adaptation starring Paul Ne
Cathy DuPont
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You can look at something for a long time and not see it until it has moved or run off."
- Elmore Leonard, Hombre


Book two in Library of America's: Westerns: Last Stand at Saber River / Hombre / Valdez Is Coming / Forty Lashes Less One / Stories. Hombre, published in 1961, has the feel almost of a locked-room mystery. Except instead of a room, it is a mud coach (think a lighter version of a stage coach). The hero is John Russell, an Apache-raised white man. The story is narrated by a young, innoc
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
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
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Daniel Villines
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Hombre is a unique book when taken in context with the other books that I’ve read by Leonard. His writing style felt like it was adjusted to match the dryness of the Arizona desert as well as the solitude of its main character, John Russell. Both, the character and his setting seemed to be intertwined through the pages, serving each other throughout the story.

The story is thought provoking. Leonard gambles with the lives of all his characters and in doing so, repeatedly pits the value of one li
Wayne Barrett
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, historical, western
3.5 actual rating
The early western works of Elmore Leonard read like one of the old spaghetti westerns on tv. It was an easy read and good overall but there was just not enough action taking place for me to give it a full 4 stars.
Heath Lowrance
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
HOMBRE was a huge leap forward for Elmore Leonard, in my opinion. His first four novels were all solid, well-written Westerns, but with very little that made them stand out from the hundreds of other Westerns at the time. I'm a fan of those early ones for their remarkable compactness and directness of style, but HOMBRE is the first one that feels really different, not just in its themes but in the way Leonard approaches the characters.

It's unique also in that it's the first (and only) one writte
Man, this is a tight story that builds tension with each new paragraph. Leonard was a master. He created a believable voice in the Carl's first person and structured the narrative to boil over just in the last couple of pages.

Lean and mean. Tough to beat.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-western
A really exciting western novel. The lead character is part Apache and all gunslinger. He's the ultimate reluctant hero. One of Leonard's best westerns. ...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
Donna Brown
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Brutal western about a stagecoach robbery.
Sam Sattler
May 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
Rightfully so, Elmore Leonard is best known for his crime fiction, but Leonard was not always a mystery writer. He began his career, in fact, as a writer of western novels and short stories, and he made significant contributions to that genre. And, just as with his crime novels, several of Leonard’s westerns were chosen by Hollywood producers to become major movies of the day. Hombre, written in 1961, was one of those so chosen, and in 1967 it became a feature film starring Paul Newman as “Hombr ...more
Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: westerns
Apparenly i have read this novel before when i became Leonard fan early 2010s.

I was impressed by the high quality of the western short stories in his complete Western short stories collection. For a writer whose greatness i first saw in the crime,noir novels of his with lowlifes.

Hombre is pretty simple story but the writing,the character of John Russell is much more memorable to me this time. I saw more in the clean,unaffected prose style than the first time i read this book. Back then i hadnt
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
I was at the end of this before I realized what was bugging me. It’s in first person, and it’s a great first person, but that means it lacks all the plot-swapping POV that Elmore does best. It’s classic Elmore, a great western, it was just that one little thing.
John Elbe
Nov 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: elmore-leonard
"If he tries to leave with nothing, shoot him once. If he takes the saddle bag, shoot him twice. If he picks up the water, empty your gun."

Continuing my complete reading of Elmore Leonard. A great early novel and my second Western overall. It's more like crime fiction disguised as a western! Of course 'the crime' is only the backdrop for a great character driven story told through a rare first person narrator for Leonard.
Thrilling when it needed to be and takes off best when our main character
A fine story. I’ve read quite a few older Westerns recently, including a few Zane Grey’s. The first thing I thought of when I finished this short book was that it sounded so much different than Grey’s century-old prose. This was much tighter, with a knowing narrator. It felt modern and to me, an easier read. At times, Grey felt like he was paid by the word (and he likely was), but here you get appropriate levels of description and mood setting. I will be looking for more Leonard audiobook Wester ...more
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I did not realize how short this title is . . . more novella than novel . . .but man is it good! It's because of its length relative to how good it is that I decided to go the full five stars. This is clearly one of the best Leonard stories, and one of the best Western stories, ever written. The portrait created of John Russell, and how the others with whom he is traveling are biased when the realize he is at least part Indian, and then realizing they cannot survive without him.

Read this one as
David Ebsworth
Feb 18, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I seem to have been chatting a lot lately about the virtues of Westerns - they are, after all, just a sub-genre of historical fiction - and realised I'd never actually read Elmore Leonard's novel Hombre. Magnificent. Adapted for the screen, of course, starring Paul Newman and, like Jack Schaefer's Shane, so beautifully written that the scriptwriters had virtually nothing to do. They simply lifted the dialogue straight from the book's pages. Great story and a neat change from my normal reading. ...more
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Shirley Schwartz
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Who knew that the author of dark, comedic crime novels like Get Shorty and Raylan also wrote pretty darn good westerns too. This little book is often sited as one of the top 25 crime novels, and as I've been trying to read some of the books on that list, I read this one. My love of Lonesome Dove has started this quest. Although this book doesn't have the scope of Lonesome Dove, it has a lot going for it. It's short, but full of action and full of realism. It all begins with the introduction of o ...more
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American Westerns: I recently read Hombre 4 17 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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