Imagine being an author and publishing 300 million copies of your ninety novels, twenty-eight short story collections, and assorted other books. Forty-five of Louis L’Amour’s books and stories have been made into major movies, such as the Sackett tales and Hondo with Paul Newman as a half-breed Indian. Can talent such as this be surpassed? Not likely.
An example of his descriptive prose from “And Proudly We Die,” a story of out-of-work sailors during the Depression:
“We were all misfits, more or less, just so much wasted material thrown out, casually, at one of the side doors of the world. We hadn’t much to brag about, but we did plenty of it, one time or another. We weren’t much to look at although the cops used to come down and again to give us the once over. As a rule they just left us alone, because we didn’t matter if one of us was killed.” Can anyone not picture this situation in his mind?
L’Amour, like his idols Jack London and John Steinbeck, experienced in real life almost all of his stories and traveled to most of the locations that he wrote about. This particular book covers the adventure stories - murder involving hobos riding the rails during the Depression and the exploits of his favorite pilot hero, Turk Madden, during World War II. He writes about the jungles, the Seven Seas, and his timeless adventures everywhere. On numerous nights, I found myself turning pages long after I had planned on retiring for the evening.
It is difficult to write anything about L’Amour’s work that hasn’t already been said. Consider that William Shakespeare’s works are now being credited to other people of his time by the experts. Louis L’Amour, if he were still with us, would have no need to worry about any reviews of his work. The former boxer, seaman, cattle skinner and silver miner is unique, and irreplaceable. There is no doubt, to paraphrase a modern saying, that he had been there and done that. L’Amour could well be America’s favorite storyteller.