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Lonesome Dove an American Masterpiece of Literature

Updated on July 2, 2012

Fascinating characters in the setting of the American West

Usually a book will spur a person to look for the movie, but in this case it was the movie that inspired me to read the book. Lonesome Dove made its appearance on CBS in the year 1989 as a miniseries and it immediately drew high ratings which was unusual because westerns were losing their popularity around that time. The movie introduced us to great characters and that had me curious about Lonesome Dove the book. I ended up purchasing it, and it is one of the best fictional books ever written. The book is over 900 pages long, but you end up wishing there were more pages than that. It is a book you will want to re-read. What makes it such a good novel? Here are the reasons why:


A classic novel has to have memorable characters and this book has them. Although there are many characters in the book each one is unique and each one is essential to the story being told. Here are the main characters in the story:

Augustus McCrae he is an ex Texas Ranger and the best friend of Woodrow Call who is also an ex Texas Ranger. Augustus helped the Rangers get rid of the Indians in that area and he has settled in a sleepy town called Lonesome Dove. He loves nothing better than conversing with people, drinking some whiskey, and flirting with the ladies. He doesn’t have a vision or a drive for the future. If he had his way he would have remained in the sleepy Texas town and would have been a happy man. He considers himself an expert poker player, a ladies man, and a philosopher of sorts. He is on the lazy side and would rather have some fun than have to work.

Woodrow Call he is an ex Texas Ranger and he shares a residence with Augustus. Woodrow is a bit of restless character who doesn’t know how to relax. He always stays busy working on the ranch, breaking in wild horses. He doesn’t know how to have fun and he would rather not waste time. He is proud to be an American and gets angry when Augustus mentions he was born in Scotland. He is ambitious and great in his work ethic. He lacks social skills and finds it hard to interact with people especially the ladies.

Newt Dobbs he was raised by Gus and Woodrow. His mother was a prostitute who died when Newt was young. Everyone thinks that Woodrow is Newt’s father, Woodrow won’t admit it to anyone, but deep down he feels he may be his father too. Newt has always felt abandoned first by a Mother who died while he was child and secondly by a Dad who wouldn’t admit to being his Dad. The author of the book admitted that the title of the book “Lonesome Dove” referred to Newt.

Jake Spoon he is a longtime friend of Woodrow and Gus. Jake is a bit like Gus he would rather spend his days drinking, and loving the ladies. He is a gambler and is reckless ways keep getting him into all kinds of trouble.

Lorena Wood she is a prostitute in Lonesome Dove, but she doesn’t see the joy that Gus does in living there. She feels her future belongs in California. She meets up with Jake Spoon and he agrees to help make her dream come true. Lorena soon discovers fulfilling a dream is harder than it seems.

Clara Allen she has a special relationship with Gus McCrae they were each others first real loves. The only reason Gus agrees with Woodrow’s crazy plan to go to Montana is because he knows Clara lives on the path that the cattle drive is going through. Clara was always in love with Gus, but she knew they could never have a future because Gus was always off on an adventure, and he had a roving eye. Gus was the love of her life, but she knew they could never live together. Deep down Gus knew it wouldn’t work either.


The book of Lonesome Dove places you in the early days of America when the lands out West were still being settled. We start in the desert of Texas, and proceed to Arkansas, and to the dangers of St. Louis where the Sioux were still scalping any white people who crossed their paths, and to the untamed, beautiful state of Montana. We get the feel of the beauty of young America and the dangers of it too. This was a time where any injury could cause you to either loose a limb or your life.


Larry McMurtry created a masterpiece of storytelling in this book set in the old West. Jake Spoon rides into town and visits his old friends Gus and Woodrow. He tells them about the beautiful state of Montana and how it is still untamed for the moment. This sparks Woodrow’s interest and soon he convinces Gus to join him on a cattle drive to Montana. There are a lot of people that cross their paths during this journey and all of them are worth meeting.

This book has drama, comedy, and suspense. Lonesome Dove should join the ranks of great American Literature. It is a flawless story. One that will make you wonder how you would have fared if you were placed in that time. It is also a story where you would really like to have met some of the characters and listened to their wild adventures as only they could tell it. Fascinating characters in the setting of the American West it is a story you won't forget.


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