Book Review: Education of a Wandering Man
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
We're starting something new over here on Neroli Blossoms. To go along with my new direction for the blog (more on that later), I'm introducing my first book review! I also have some pretty fantastic ideas to resurrect the Literary Inspiration feature, but book reviews might become a monthly feature here. To kick things off, I'm starting with the autobiography of one of my favorite authors, Louis L'Amour.
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 books, from yondering, and from some remarkable men and women--that shaped him as a storyteller and as a man. Like classic L'Amour fiction, Education of a Wandering Man mixes authentic frontier drama--such as the author's desperate efforts to survive a sudden two-day trek across the blazing Mojave desert--with true-life characters like Shanghai waterfront toughs, desert prospectors, and cowboys whom Louis L'Amour met while traveling the globe. At last, in his own words, this is a story of a one-of-a-kind life lived to the fullest . . . a life that inspired the books that will forever enable us to relive our glorious frontier heritage.
- From Goodreads
First, a little bit about the author. He writes some of the best westerns that are out there. I never read westerns until I was in college and my husband introduced me to them. I was doubtful but I absolutely fell in love with his straightforward story telling and breathtaking descriptions of the west. The most incredible thing though, is that when reading his autobiography you realize he lived that life. He could be a character in his own books.
L'Amour didn't have much formal schooling, but he loved the written word. One of the best things about this book is the endless lists of books he writes about. He has such joy listing each book he read and explaining how they influenced his life. If you're ever looking for classic or influential books to read, just crack open any chapter and you'll get a great assortment. He has such a love and respect for books that just permeates through every page.
The other great thing about this book is the developing story of his life. He was a fascinating person and his life was just incredible. He left school to roam the world. He was trained to fist fight by some of the best at that time and fought prize matches to pay for his book collection. He took odd jobs across the country and traveled around the U.S. as a hobo on trains. He almost died in the desert in Arizona walking from a mining job back to town after the owner never came and got him. He talked to people who had known Billy the Kid. He took to the docks and traveled the world as a seaman. His other jobs included things such as lumberjack, fruit picker, and elephant handler. Yeah, you read that right. He worked with elephants.
You don't have to like westerns to appreciate this book. And if you do ever want to try the genera, I'd highly recommend his Sackett series or "The Lonesome Gods". If westerns aren't your thing, but you'd still like to read some of his work, try "Last of the Breed" which takes place in Siberia during the cold war and is the story about a POW attempting to escape back to America through Siberia in the winter. Both are incredible!