The best books about the Wild West that you’ll ever read

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by the Wild West since I was a little boy, playing Cowboy vs Indian with a plastic six-shooter and bow-and-arrow set. I grew up watching movies and reading books about the Wild West, and probably that sense of adventure and necessary courage required in such settings helped build the foundation that led me to join the Marines. It took guts to move out West. (Or desperation.) But either way, the settling of the Wild West is one of our core American stories. To me, the stories of the West are even more enthralling today than they were even fifty years ago.

I wrote...

Little Man, and the Dixon County War

By Stan R. Mitchell, Danah Mitchell (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Man, and the Dixon County War

What is my book about?

Good vs evil. Right vs wrong. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. And when a young lawman pins on a badge in the West, he’ll find out why most (honest) lawmen end up dead.

(But if you're still not convinced, there's also loads of action, gunplay, and an abducted woman, who even the U.S. Marshal won't go save.)

The books I picked & why

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By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of Appaloosa

Why this book?

This book is the perfect example of a great Western. A stern, courageous lawman, tougher than forged steel. A young sidekick by his side. A beautiful woman in town that everyone wants.

Put those elements onto the page and then throw into it a cruel, evil rancher, who’s already killed the city marshal and one of his deputies. What do you end up with? A kick-ass Western.

Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

Why this book?

The thing I love about Three-Ten to Yuma is the under-dog nature of the entire situation. And I also love its brevity. It seems impossible that such a story can be so tight and compact, so crammed full of suspense (the entire plot that the movie is based on is actually a short story). It still boggles the mind and shows the genius that Elmore Leonard was.

Last Stand at Saber River

By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of Last Stand at Saber River

Why this book?

This book is such a classic Western plot.

A confederate soldier, Paul Cable, returns from the Civil War to find Union men have taken over his farm. Cable thinks his fighting is over, but he couldn’t be more wrong.

The book is tense and moves quickly. It’s also short, yet packs a punch far above its weight. Highly recommend.

Hondo (Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures)

By Louis L'Amour,

Book cover of Hondo (Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures)

Why this book?

This book is a great read by Louis L'Amour, who’s arguably one of the greatest Western writers to ever live.

L'Amour executes the book brilliantly, placing a woman and her six-year-old son in grave danger from some angry, fired-up Apaches, who are on the warpath.

All that stands between them and their safety is one tough man and his dog.

Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry,

Book cover of Lonesome Dove

Why this book?

I saved perhaps the best for last. This is an epic story, so grand in scale that it made the list of top 50 books ever written and won a Pulitzer Prize. It’s also one of fewer than five books that almost made me cry. And that’s saying something. The book tells the story of two Texas Rangers, who are just a touch beyond their prime. But not by much. They’ve got more than enough experience to handle anything that comes their way, except for aging and boredom. It’s these two things that they can’t whip, but damn do they try, taking off on one of the most incredible adventures that you can possibly imagine. If you’ve never read Lonesome Dove, then I’d go buy it today. You’ll remember the story thirty years from now.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in American frontier, the American West, and cowboys?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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