Monte Walsh

By Jack Schaefer,

Book cover of Monte Walsh

Book description

Originally published in 1963, Monte Walsh continues to delight readers as a Western classic and popular favorite. The novel explores the cowboy lives of Monte Walsh and Chet Rollins as they carouse, ride, and work at the Slash Y with Cal Brennan. As the West changes and their cowboy antics…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Monte Walsh as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Essentially this is an homage to the American Cowboy as it tells of his demise as a lifestyle. While some say this one’s hard to read because of its episodic format, I found it the ideal setting for telling the background of the Cowboy’s life and times. Life doesn’t happen in such a structured way as most stories depict. As Monty fights against the progress that will consume him, the reader sees its inevitability. Lament it if you will, it’s a forward-moving engine that will not be stopped.

Jack Schaefer is mostly remembered for one of his other (very fine) novels: Shane, the basis for the iconic film. But it’s the lesser-known Monte Walsh that really captures what life was like in the waning days of the “Wild West,” especially for cowboys. The episodic novel follows the titular wrangler over the entirety of his life as he wanders the West looking for work and getting into and out of trouble. Like Lonesome Dove, it gives readers a look at cowboy life so up-close-and-personal you can practically smell the smoke from the campfire.

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