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Louis L'Amour Westerns, Short Stories, Novels and other genres
With These Hands
More than Westerns
Best known for Westerns or Frontier fiction, such as the Sacketts series, as he prefers to call it, Louis L’Amour wrote in other genres in his early days contributing to the pulp magazines. In the Louis L'Amour book “The Hill of Homicide” his detective stories are collected. “With These Hands” is a collection of his short stories with only one western. The rest are stories originally published in the pulps about boxers, detectives, pilots, and sea captains, not to mention damsels in distress. The “Haunted Mesa” qualifies as Science Fiction.
Born Louis Dearborn L. LaMoore on March 22, 1908 and died of lung cancer on June 110,1988. The youngest of seven children of Dr. Louis Charles LaMoore and Emily Dearborn LaMoore, he spent his early youth in Jamestown, North Dakota. His father was a veterinarian who also sold farm machinery and held city and state position.
At 15 he left home and traveled the country. Besides working at various jobs he fought in boxing matches and then became a merchant seaman. No doubt, mush material for his later stories came from these activities.
He wrote and sold some poetry and articles in the early 1930’s for small circulation magazines. The last half of the 1930’s he wrote and sold pulp fiction.
In 1940 he published his first in the New Western Magazine.
In World War II he served in the United States army as a transport officer with the 3622 Transport Company. He was discharged in 1946. He continued to submit stories to magazines. In the 1950’s it was suggested that he write four Hopalong Cassidy novels.
“Hoppy” as the Cassidy character was known to us in the 1950’s, was very popular on Early TV. They were really recycled movies which star William Boyd retained the rights to and sold to a medium hungry for material at the time. This led to more demand for more stories.
L’Amour’s first novel published under his own name Westward The Tide in 1951. It became Hondo and a hit movie for John Wayne. His real breakthrough was when Bantam books hired him to write western novels on contract. He eventually wrote 89 novels with sales of 225 million copies. He has been translated into numerous languages.
He won the Congressional Gold Medal in 1982. President Reagan awarded L’Amour the Medal of Freedom. He also received North Dakota’s Roughrider Award. Jamestown College gave him an Honorary PhD.
Last of Breed
L’Amour brings much personal experience plus research and reading to his stories. There is a tendency to pass off writers like him and others who write “popular” fiction as being insignificant. Much the same attitude displayed toward Mark Twain in his day. As one reviewer says, however, “Each story is a tight, fast paced well-researched narrative.”
The author has lived much experience but can be passed off as writing stock westerns. However, what many overlook is that the Western and the Detective are the folklore of our country. The job of the writer isn’t to change it or reinvent it. Myths are told and retold with the object of retelling it better and with new insights.
Another reviewer compared one of his stories to “something Jack London would write.”
Louis L'Amour website
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© 2010 Don A. Hoglund