Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
The best fiction based around real places and people.
on 29 December 2000
"Dead Man's Walk" is one of those books that kept me glued to its pages, and there aren't many of such books. It is not one of those predictalbe - a cowboy rode into town, killed a few men, won the girl stories. It is a brilliant book probably as close to the truth as any, although at times the descriptions of scalping and torture make it a little bit gory. But it is also very sentimental, aspect which is represented by Matty Roberts and her growing feelings for old Shadrach. Often you cannot feel anything but sympathy for the characters, as they go from one hardship to another. The individual descriptions of each incident as they took place, evoke, I think the exact emotions which they are supposed to. When Woodrow and Bigfoot are forced to drink horse urine to survive, you know they have to, but you still feel just as disguisted with this act as the characters do. When Bigfoot is selected to be executed, one can only feel sorry for him and say out loud, that 'It's not fair! He's been with them from the beginning, he has to live!'. Gus McRae, when he wonders off whilst on duty, makes me angry for his disobedience, and all I could say when he got lost was 'Serves you right, for not listening to.' Both Caleb Cobb and Chevallie are poor examples of leadership, hell bent only on what they can achieve from these expeditions. Cobb's cool blood can be commendable, under some circumstances, yet I cannot but feel that he should have been hunged a long time before he had a chance to organise an expedition to Santa Fe.
Although I knew that the two main characters will have to survive their adventure, since they are the subjects of three further tales, at times it was hard to believe that they would. The suspense in some instances, e.g. who will draw the white colour bean, was immense. It was impossible to tell what was going to happen next, as all the characters are as unpredictable, as the thoughts of Larry McMurtry. Above all it was very good to know how the lives of the two friends were thrown together. Also to see what has made Gus and Woodraw become the men they were in Lonesome Dove, and how the hardships they have faced on those very first treks across the Comancheria has changed them, and helped them to face the 'real world' of the wild west.
I was most impressed with McMurty's portrayal of Comanche Indians. They are human beings leading lives so much unlike their white counterparts, and they are presented as such. Even though the descriptions of scalping and torture curdle the blood in my veins just reading about them, thanks to McMurty it is possible to understand why Comanches, and indeed Native Americans, behaved in such way, and even to forgive them for such behaviour. I have a great admiration for Native American's, and "Dead Man's Walk" has provided me with some of the better descriptions of what it was like to be a Comanche in 1840s. One only has to close one's eyes to see the skill with which Buffalo Hump hunts his pray. The talent which Kicking Wolf possesses to steal horses literally from under the enemy's nose, is beyond comprehension, however well it is pictured in the book. Although it would be unheard of to give a young boy a gun to fight in a white world, Indian's taught their children to fight from very early ages, and that is represented by Buffalo Hump's son, killed by corporal Call. Overall I think "Dead Man's Walk is a great book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in reading about the wild west, but also to those knew to this genre of writing. Most of all I will praise Larry McMurtry for his representation of the relationship between the Native American's and their white nemesis. The way in which he incorporated the real character of Buffalo Hump into the story, is definiteyly something to be proud of, for although a great deal might be known about his life, no one can account for every day of it. Furthermore, the descriptions of places like Llano Estacado, had me reaching for the atlas and history books, and deep down I'm hoping that perhpas such two people like gus and Woodrow really did exist and live through those adventures. They are definitely not the typical cowboys you see in western movies, these can only be real people.
Larry McMurtry is truly a gifted writer. There is magic coming from every page, not allowing the reader to put the book down, one simply has to know what will happen next. I laughed and cried with the characters, and now I shall go on to read so that I can see how their adventures finished.