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4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books (1961)
  • ASIN: B0000CL32X
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,861,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Oakley Hall was born in 1920 in San Diego and grew up there and in Honolulu, where his mother moved after his parents' divorce. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Hall joined the Marine Corps and was stationed in the Pacific during the Second World War. Following the war, and with the aid of the GI Bill, he continued his studies in France, Switzerland, and England, returning to the US to receive an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Hall published his first book, Murder City, in 1949 and his most recent, Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots, in 2005. In between he wrote more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels The Downhill Racers, Separations, and Warlock, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1958; a libretto for the opera based on Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose; and two guides to writing fiction. Hall was director of the writing program at the University of California, Irvine for twenty years and, in 1969, co-founded the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, an annual writers' conference. Among his many honors are lifetime achievment awards from the PEN Center USA and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Oakley Hall lives in San Francisco.

Robert Stone was born in Brooklyn in 1937. He is the author of seven novels: A Hall of Mirrors, the National Book Award–winning Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. He has also written short stories, essays, and screenplays, and published a short story collection, Bear and His Daughter, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York City and in Key West, Florida. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's not just me that thinks it's a great novel. This book was a finalist for the prestigious Pulitzer prize in 1958. And despite having great literary credentials, it's extremely readable. I found it hard to put down and leave - but it's a decent sized book; you won't read this in one sitting.

I'd seen the film of the same name starring Richard Widmark et al, so knew the background and characters, but the book is so very much more detailed and complicated. Everyone has his or her own agenda. The marshal is determined to go by the rules, as he sees them; his friend Morgan has complete disdain for the rules. The Deputy, Gannon, is determined to hold to his integrity despite the hostility from everyone around him. The women have more of an important role here too, and are very complex, well-drawn characters. It all hangs together very well. Part of it is written as journal entries in the first person, and the rest as third party viewpoint. For someone like me with very little knowledge of US history this is an insight into how frontier towns struggled to come into existence (this novel is set in 1881). I was gutted to finish it and am reading it through again. It's worth it. This is the best book I've read in many years.
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By Bluecashmere. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came to this book knowing neither of its literary recognition, nor of its having been filmed. It seems to me to be a novel of quite outstanding quality, poised somewhere between myth and reality. As a western it stands beside McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” and “The Border Trilogy” and McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove”, and they don’t come any better. Like “Blood Meridian” it is based in part on actual events and as another reviewer notes, we are certainly reminded of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday via two of its central characters Clay Blaisdell and the charismatic Tom Morgan.

It is rare to discover so thought provoking and subtle book that at the same time moves at such a compelling pace and is so incident-packed. Given time, I could have happily devoured the whole at a single sitting. Without question it is a western but like all great novels – and I have no qualms in placing it in that category – it transcends the genre. With great skill Hall filters events and their significance through the consciousness of several characters. Most prominent in this role stands the one character almost totally removed from the action, the store owner Goodpasture, whose journals work throughout to prevent any easy, moral perspective on events. However, we are also taken inside the minds of others: not only observers like the Judge, but also those at the heart of the action: Bud Gannon, Morgan, David the doctor and the ambitious young miner, Jimmy Fitzsimmons.

Outside Warlock and the mines, there are two other key locations, San Pablo, where the now near-outlawed cowboys live in uneasy alliance, and Bright City, whose authority over Warlock both threatens and stabilises.
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Format: Paperback
A fictionalization of some genuine happenings in the old west, this one tells the story of events (over a relatively brief period of a few months) in a western boom town called Warlock, so named for one of the many silver mines whose output draws and sustains its disparate and often unsavory populace. Denied a town patent through the inattention of the territory's senile military governor and law enforcement by an uninterested County Sheriff who prefers the relative safety of the county seat to dealing with the bad men who plague Warlock, the town's businessmen and notables determine to take matters into their own hands. Without authorization or legal standing the citizens' committee sends for a gunfighter who has made a name for himself elsewhere as a lawman for hire. And Clay Blaisdell comes, along with his close friend, the somewhat disreputable gambler Tom Morgan. Like Wyatt Earp and his dissolute gambler buddy Doc Holliday in the real history of the old west (captured in a somewhat fictional retelling in the film Tombstone [DVD] [1993] and many other histories, novels and films), Blaisdell, Earp's proxy in this tale, soon sets about restoring order with some back up from pal Morgan. But Morgan is a strange and somewhat dark character, taking as much pleasure in being disreputable as Blaisdell seems to take in enforcing the law (even when he has no legally recognized authority to do so).

At roughly the same time as Blaisdell assumes his role of town marshal, a public spirited townsman accepts the Deputy Sheriff position in Warlock after having been shamed to see the last Deputy run out of town without a fight by a rowdy bunch of local cowboys from nearby San Pablo.
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By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
A big, detailed morally probing book, full of incident and action. Hall's prose lacks finesse but it does the job, and the story is wonderful. Oakley Hall is one of those quietly read American writers who deserve to have a John Williams'esque revival (others include Wallace Stegner and William Maxwell). One of the must-reads of the American canon, this.
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