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Education of a Wandering Man

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From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from books, from yondering, and from some remarkable men and women--that shaped him as a storyteller and as a man. Like classic L'Amour fiction, Education of a Wandering Man mixes authentic frontier drama--such as the author's desperate efforts to survive a sudden two-day trek across the blazing Mojave desert--with true-life characters like Shanghai waterfront toughs, desert prospectors, and cowboys whom Louis L'Amour met while traveling the globe. At last, in his own words, this is a story of a one-of-a-kind life lived to the fullest . . . a life that inspired the books that will forever enable us to relive our glorious frontier heritage.


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From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L'Amour's memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning--from books, from yondering, and from some remarkable men and women--that shaped him as a storyteller and as a man. Like classic L'Amour fiction, Education of a Wandering Man mixes authentic frontier drama--such as the author's desperate efforts to survive a sudden two-day trek across the blazing Mojave desert--with true-life characters like Shanghai waterfront toughs, desert prospectors, and cowboys whom Louis L'Amour met while traveling the globe. At last, in his own words, this is a story of a one-of-a-kind life lived to the fullest . . . a life that inspired the books that will forever enable us to relive our glorious frontier heritage.

30 review for Education of a Wandering Man

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roslyn

    I am fascinated with how much this man read! And all the while he was making a living doing hard manual labor, traveling, writing - he inspires me to try to fit in more reading time! He must have taken advantage of EVERY spare minute. I love his wry humor and accurate descriptions of human nature.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I got this for free out of a wheelbarrow of books a neighbor put out, so technically I didn't break my (loosely) self-imposed ban on buying more books before I reduced my TBR pile. L'Amour says this isn't really an autobiography, but is supposed to focus on how he educated himself. He wanders enough to make it a pretty good, if incomplete autobiography. The byways are often more interesting than the main story. His education was mostly from reading, wandering, & talking to people, but he places I got this for free out of a wheelbarrow of books a neighbor put out, so technically I didn't break my (loosely) self-imposed ban on buying more books before I reduced my TBR pile. L'Amour says this isn't really an autobiography, but is supposed to focus on how he educated himself. He wanders enough to make it a pretty good, if incomplete autobiography. The byways are often more interesting than the main story. His education was mostly from reading, wandering, & talking to people, but he places an emphasis on the first. I'd love to see a list of all the books he mentions, but a Google search didn't bring up such a thing. There is one in the back of the book. While most of the books he wrote were pretty simple, he went to some pains to be historically accurate in some ways. He certainly bent the rules a lot more gun fights & show downs than actually took place, though. Still, they're fun books & there are some that are fairly profound. Two that come to mind are Bendigo Shafter: A Novel & The Lonesome Gods, favorites of mine. Both these protagonists grow up learning much the way L'Amour did & he uses phrases in those novels often in this book. I didn't enjoy the last 1/3 - 1/4 as much as the first. He repeated himself & lectured more. I didn't care for that tone, but still found interesting facts. Too many of the books are just mentioned by title at times. It would have been nice to know a bit more about them. I have read or attempted to read some that he mentioned. His ability to read dry, complex texts obviously exceeds my own. The Wikipedia article on him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_L%... is technically accurate, but lends a different slant than what I'm getting from this book. It says, "...eight years, they skinned cattle..." making it sound like Louis was with all or part of his family. According to him, he wasn't. He left home at 15 & did come back to help his parents move from OR to OK, but was otherwise out on his own. Apparently he grew big early & easily passed for several years older than he was. An interesting tidbit from the move with his parents. They stopped at a ranch where Louis had worked to spend the night & he mentioned something about Butch Cassidy. The ranch owner replied that Butch had dropped by a couple of days ago to swap a couple of tires for a saddle. L'Amour explains that while the world thought that Cassidy had died down in Bolivia, many folks in WY, CO, & UT knew better & that. Except for the Pinkertons, everyone liked him since his holdups never killed anyone. (I'll take that with a large grain of salt.) I read the bit through several times, but could never decide if either L'Amour or the rancher were joking or serious. There is very little evidence either way for the life or death of Cassidy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butch_ca... I've read both theories in other books, too. On the way home I was listening to the second section of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. A character says that one of the best things about books is that you can shut them when you need to think, unlike the TV & advertising of the book's world. I got home & read some of this book. The epigraph to one of the chapters I read was "A book is a friend that will do what no friend does - be silent when we wish to think." - Will Durant, the author of Story of Civilization Kind of neat getting the same sentiment from two such different sources within an hour of each other. I'd love to give this 5 stars, but it was a bit too uneven for that. It was a good book & I'm glad I read it. I'm fairly sure I'm not going to keep it, though.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fatman

    Overall this was an entertaining read, but... holy digressions, Batman! Louis L'Amour led a fascinating life, and I would have loved to learn more about the world he existed in. But the haphazardly piled anecdotes are fun, and I triple dare anyone to go through this book without adding several titles to their TBR list. Overall this was an entertaining read, but... holy digressions, Batman! Louis L'Amour led a fascinating life, and I would have loved to learn more about the world he existed in. But the haphazardly piled anecdotes are fun, and I triple dare anyone to go through this book without adding several titles to their TBR list.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    I looked at the number of books and also at what books they were; I had no idea he read so many "classics"--many of them are in the Great Books set or are recognized now as great literature. I have read hundreds of books, but I don't think I've read anywhere near as many "highbrow" books. I need to do the work, tackle the harder and lesser known stuff. I'm inclined to use this as an argument against the mindset that 'everyone needs a college degree'. I recognize that now it's many many years late I looked at the number of books and also at what books they were; I had no idea he read so many "classics"--many of them are in the Great Books set or are recognized now as great literature. I have read hundreds of books, but I don't think I've read anywhere near as many "highbrow" books. I need to do the work, tackle the harder and lesser known stuff. I'm inclined to use this as an argument against the mindset that 'everyone needs a college degree'. I recognize that now it's many many years later, but the quality of your education doesn't depend on getting A's. The quality of your education depends on knowing and applying true principles. How are you going to learn truth if you only read pre-digested textbooks? That's only getting the author's opinion. Real education involves learning more than one viewpoint and deciding for oneself what to believe.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I have only read two books by L'Amour, but I really enjoyed them. When I saw this book about how he educated himself by reading everything in sight, I had to read it. I have added several books to my TBR that he discussed in this book. I have only read two books by L'Amour, but I really enjoyed them. When I saw this book about how he educated himself by reading everything in sight, I had to read it. I have added several books to my TBR that he discussed in this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Several years ago I helped a dear old friend (he died a day after his 102nd birthday in 2009) edit his memoirs. He was not new to writing. In his younger years he had produced an interesting series of essays about his love for the farm he had purchased and the horses he rode called River Hill Soliloquy: The Story Of An Illinois Farm. It was published by the University of Illinois Press. After his death I had it reissued as an ebook. The book had a local following. The book I helped to edit years Several years ago I helped a dear old friend (he died a day after his 102nd birthday in 2009) edit his memoirs. He was not new to writing. In his younger years he had produced an interesting series of essays about his love for the farm he had purchased and the horses he rode called River Hill Soliloquy: The Story Of An Illinois Farm. It was published by the University of Illinois Press. After his death I had it reissued as an ebook. The book had a local following. The book I helped to edit years later called Montana Montage: Memoir of a Dude Wrangler was a collection of stories from his very early days as a trail hand in Montana. It had considerable historical interest. The last item that we worked on, however, The Diary of a Journeyman: The Life and Times of the Past Century, despite my best efforts became a litany, a virtual list, of the many friends he had had during his years as the editorial director for a large printing and publishing firm in Mt. Morris, Illinois that produced fraternal organization magazines. He was afraid of leaving anyone out regardless of their importance. It had the potential to be a fascinating study of changes in the printing industry, but he was adamant in spending time mentioning people. Clarence, like L'Amour was self-educated and never had much formal education. He went on to become a wealthy benefactor of the local community college and its library of which I was the director. I helped him self-publish Diary of a Journeyman and Montana Montage, but by that time, he had outlived most of the people in Diary so the very limited initial market had dwindled even more. So it is with L'Amour's book. Far from the action-packed westerns that built a large following (I'm but a lukewarm fan as I find much of his writing pedestrian), this book borders on being merely a catalog of the books he has read over the years with assorted comments. The writing, in its short cadences with abrupt transitions reminded me so much of Clarence's final product it was eerie, the only difference being that the subjects were books rather than persons. It's very superficial and of only limited interest. I fear I must admit to skimming it quite quickly. That Daniel J. Boostin, one of my favorite cultural historians -- his trilogy The Americans, Vol. 1: The Colonial Experience, which I read in the late seventies, is enthralling history and brilliantly written -- speaks more to his friendship with L'Amour than the book's content.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    No choicer gift can any man give to another than his spirit’s intimate converse with itself. Schleiermacher I would bet that Louis L’Amour would not be in the list of the first forty authors you might guess used a Schleiermacher quote as an epigraph for a chapter deep in his education autobiography. And it wasn’t a quote he grabbed from A Speaker’s Treasury of Quotes and Anecdotes, either. L’Amour read it, among thousands of other works ranging from Homer to Aeschylus to Gogol to Marcian of Hera No choicer gift can any man give to another than his spirit’s intimate converse with itself. Schleiermacher I would bet that Louis L’Amour would not be in the list of the first forty authors you might guess used a Schleiermacher quote as an epigraph for a chapter deep in his education autobiography. And it wasn’t a quote he grabbed from A Speaker’s Treasury of Quotes and Anecdotes, either. L’Amour read it, among thousands of other works ranging from Homer to Aeschylus to Gogol to Marcian of Heracles to Montesquieu to Ssu-ma Ch’ien to Blackstone to Somadeva. He read deeply in literature of the frontier on every continent, but of course most deeply on the American west. Like anyone of his time, he read some works that are best forgotten or have been superceded by subsequent scholarship. But mostly he read to understand from people who lived in the time what everyday life was like, so some of his more obscure reading will always be valuable for that purpose. L’Amour was a tough, amazing man. He left school at fifteen and spent many years knocking about the world working in mines, on ships, on docks, in lumber camps, and anywhere else a strong body and determination were useful. He also boxed, and boxing is a recurring theme in this book. But he didn’t resemble very many other men in these environments. He meant to be a writer from a very young age. His father was a vet, the house was well stocked with books and conversation centered around reading and boxing. Throughout his traveling years he read voraciously, in every spare second. Sometimes he took breaks and lived on next to nothing so he could indulge in a spell of reading. He also started writing poems and short stories. Here the determination paid off, as there were many years of rejections as he learned his craft. This is a tale of the education he provided for himself through reading, and the accidental education he obtained through life lessons. Not a full autobiography by any means, it still includes episodes of near-death in Death Valley, fights in various tough spots, riding the rails, periods of persistent hunger during depression days between jobs and more trials merely hinted at. He kept his eyes open, and tried to use every bit of experience to his benefit. (He is not romantic about his tough road; he wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else. ) But on every page there are notes on what he was reading, why, and what he remembers of that author. And he remembers a lot; the man had a prodigious memory. (He set books in places he had traveled from southeast Asia to Europe during WWII to every inch of the American West.) I put sticky notes at all of the places I thought I might want a quote for this review or to mark a book I want to investigate, and the volume now has a very thick fringe of yellow ‘feelers’ that I can’t begin to squeeze in here. Many of the books I highlighted are listed in the chapters L’Amour uses to emphasize the stories and accomplishments of civilizations on continents that fall outside the usual education of Americans, even today. (L’Amour died in 1988, and this book was copyrighted in 1989; I suspect he meant to edit it so can forgive some jump-about chapters.) Even with my interest in literature in translation and the wide reading of my GR friends there were so many ideas to follow up on in these chapters. For example, Fifty years in both hemispheres, or, Reminiscences of the Life of a Former Merchantby Vincent Nolte who appears in Anthony Adverse, The Travels of Lao Ts’an, books about sea-faring and markets of the Indian Ocean, Black Sparta and other works by Naomi Mitchison. There are lists of works he read while on the road from 1930 to 1937 (except 1936) in the back of the book, which are daunting. And the amazing thing is that he found many of these books lying about as he went from foc’sle to bunkhouse. He comments that at least some of the men out there were thoughtful and well-educated. In addition, he cites the Little Blue Books that were short, small classic works a man could buy for a few cents and carry in his pocket. He also haunted many libraries. Eventually L’Amour accumulated a library of 10,000 books. In the days before internet bookselling. It included many very obscure works that he went to some trouble to obtain. The introduction to Education is by Daniel J. Boorstin, L’Amour’s friend of many years who should know a well-read man when he sees one. L’Amour cannot put sophisticated arguments into such a book, which is mostly aimed at persuading others to adopt his voracious curiosity and devotion to reading in every spare second. But he does periodically detour into ardent essays on why he believes Shakespeare, not Marlowe, wrote the plays, why Custer is maligned at least to some extent, and so forth. There are also many chapters devoted to his love of the West: its land and its people. L’Amour says that he was not a writer of westerns but of books about the frontier, wherever it was or is. He set books in Appalachia, Asia, and Arizona, but always on the frontier. He looks forward to the frontier of space, and is optimistic about man’s future. Mostly, he shares his passion for learning about everything one possible can during one’s time on earth, either by listening carefully to people who were there during interesting times, or by reading about them. I truly enjoyed it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trace

    I'll be the first to admit that it is a very limited audience that would adore this book as much as I did. I truly felt like I had met a kindred spirit - I would have loved to meet Mr. L'Amour and discussed books - which was his ultimate passion. I wrote down several pages of quotes from his thoughts on books. This book was essentially a list of books that he'd read along with fragmented thoughts on how they impacted him and things he'd learned from them. He also told the story about how he obta I'll be the first to admit that it is a very limited audience that would adore this book as much as I did. I truly felt like I had met a kindred spirit - I would have loved to meet Mr. L'Amour and discussed books - which was his ultimate passion. I wrote down several pages of quotes from his thoughts on books. This book was essentially a list of books that he'd read along with fragmented thoughts on how they impacted him and things he'd learned from them. He also told the story about how he obtained his "wandering education". To me, it was fascinating. I can't say that I agreed on everything he talked about - but when discussing great books - there will always be differing opinions - it is enough to be sharing them and discussing them. Louis talks several times about his loneliness in trying to find people to discuss books with. On page 54 he says "Loneliness is of many kinds, and the mere presence and companionship of people does not suffice"; and I could really relate to that. I have yet to find a book club that caters to the kinds of books that I'd like to discuss and have had to rely on snippets of conversations here on Goodreads or within a leadership education group that I belong to.... The bibliography at the back of the book where he lists the books he read each year from 1931 - 1937 is very impressive. I hope to read even a fraction of the amazing works that he's read. I closed this book, satisfied to have met someone who values books as much as I do.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rex Fuller

    This is astonishing. Yes, Louis L’Amour was a western writer. Here we learn he was that in the same sense that Eisenhower was a soldier. L'Amour tells of his incredibly broad life experience beginning as a veterinarian’s son in the then still extant West in Jamestown, North Dakota. He soon discovered schooling was interfering with his education – because it insisted he read things he already had. So he left, quite deliberately, to get that education by direct experience and reading. He worked as This is astonishing. Yes, Louis L’Amour was a western writer. Here we learn he was that in the same sense that Eisenhower was a soldier. L'Amour tells of his incredibly broad life experience beginning as a veterinarian’s son in the then still extant West in Jamestown, North Dakota. He soon discovered schooling was interfering with his education – because it insisted he read things he already had. So he left, quite deliberately, to get that education by direct experience and reading. He worked as a laborer, lumber mover, bare-knuckle fighter, miner, and as whatever else he could do to earn a few dollars to finance his wandering. As a merchant seaman he saw China, Japan, Indonesia, and India. All the while he was reading, reading, reading. And he remembered much of what he read, his eventual purpose being to pay the “debt of authenticity” an author owes his readers. His story of survival in Death Valley is just one experience that tells us he knew what it was like. With complete confidence he writes of many places, ideas, and events, for example, “The basics of kung fu and karate came over the mountains from India or from the Buddhists of Khotan to China and Japan. Bodhidharma, a master of the martial arts as well as a wanderer in search of knowledge and a teacher brought his skills, after much travel to the famed Shao Lin monastery. Bodhidharma was a disciple of one of India’s greatest scholars Nagarjuna, who originated the doctrine that became Ch’an in China and Zen in Japan. In his wanderings Bodihidharma became known in China as Ta-Mo; in Japan as Daruma. He is often pictured as an old man with a twig over his shoulder from which a sandal is suspended.” He read the histories of the great centers of learning at Shrivijaya in Sumatra and Nalanda in India. After becoming “familiar” with Morocco and North Africa, and reading such books as Stanley’s works on the search for Livingstone and its sequel, only then did he “begin to study Africa.” He read Taras Bulba “one bitterly cold night in Paris” as a logisitcs officer waiting to fuel up as the Germans started the Battle of the Bulge. The books he credits as “valuable” is astounding and for those titles alone this book is worth having. Even beyond that, his “education” is partly reflected in the Bibliography, the list of books he read in 1931 through 1937. He barely even mentions what would be for anyone else a fantastic achievement, his screen-writing for Hollywood. Louis L’amour was a giant.

  10. 4 out of 5

    K.

    I loved reading about this man. He was so much more than just a western writer. He had one of the largest private libraries in the country in his time. But he was a very modest man and in his library his outward set of bookshelves moved to reveal an internal aet. He didn't want to intimidate anyone. Also, I remember reading that some young person told him they wished they could skip their education and live a life like he did. He told them that would be really stupid. He said instead they would I loved reading about this man. He was so much more than just a western writer. He had one of the largest private libraries in the country in his time. But he was a very modest man and in his library his outward set of bookshelves moved to reveal an internal aet. He didn't want to intimidate anyone. Also, I remember reading that some young person told him they wished they could skip their education and live a life like he did. He told them that would be really stupid. He said instead they would have to read 118(can't remember exact #) non-fiction books a year to make up for their lack of schooling. I don't think schools teach all that much now, but that's the standard he set for himself and the education he gave himself. His lists are what inspired me to begin recording what I read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    I cut my teeth on Louis L’amour’s “shoot-em ups.” They are good stories and I had read them as such. Only on the second readings did I realize they were far more: they were wisdom literature. L’Amour’s memoir is also a form of wisdom literature. Whenever you read a major writer, you are in contact with his own mind. Reading George RR Martin likely puts you in contact with the mind of a demon. Reading Samuel Johnson puts you in contact with the noblest of humanity. L’Amour falls close to the latt I cut my teeth on Louis L’amour’s “shoot-em ups.” They are good stories and I had read them as such. Only on the second readings did I realize they were far more: they were wisdom literature. L’Amour’s memoir is also a form of wisdom literature. Whenever you read a major writer, you are in contact with his own mind. Reading George RR Martin likely puts you in contact with the mind of a demon. Reading Samuel Johnson puts you in contact with the noblest of humanity. L’Amour falls close to the latter category. He lived a life as exciting as his stories. He dropped out of school in 10th grade because it was interfering with his education. He worked everything from ocean ships to mining to boxing. He was always reading. He gives a “writer’s take” on what books he read. None of which is actually forming. He just read when he got the chance. I often get asked how I read so much. Most of my reading, like L’Amour’s, is done waiting on people. He writes, “Often I hear people say they do not have time to read. That’s absolute nonsense. In the one year during which I kept that kind of record, I read twenty-five books while waiting for people” (L’Amour 2). One can’t really summarize L’Amour’s approach to books in one statement, but perhaps he can get close. Books teach you how to think. Good ones, anyway. L’Amour was always reading the deepest books: Don Quixote, Homer, Sir Walter Scott, Shakespeare. However, he only recommends his approach to learning once you can read 50 non-fiction books in one year (85). And there are some parts of the book that are just fascinating: 1. History is best taught through historical fiction. I agree. That’s all I read growing up. 2. The memory is a fascinating thing, especially in the middle east. Arabic scholars, some of them anyway, could recite their whole library, books and the contents thereof (156). Jews could often recite the Tanakh. L’Amour teaches the reader--the student of history--to wonder. We know that man has always been restless and searching for the next frontier. Why do we think that the limits of exploration were Spain and India before Columbus? (On a side note: Nestorian Christians had churches from Syria to Japan before 1,000 AD).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carol Bakker

    My favorite book about an autodidactic learner! While I'm not a prolific writer and I haven't traveled around the world, I completely identified with L'Amour's lack of formal education, his lifelong romance with reading, and his insatiable thirst for learning. This is the story of an adventure of education, pursued not under the best of conditions. The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to My favorite book about an autodidactic learner! While I'm not a prolific writer and I haven't traveled around the world, I completely identified with L'Amour's lack of formal education, his lifelong romance with reading, and his insatiable thirst for learning. This is the story of an adventure of education, pursued not under the best of conditions. The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to anyone within reach of a library, a post office, or even a newsstand. L'Amour acknowledges that his method of self-teaching is not a universal recommendation. He advised a young man that the first time he had read fifty nonfiction books for fun, in one year, he could consider it. Friends, I could not help myself: I counted my 2019 list. Forty nonfiction books read. Alas... Reading through L'Amour's memoir delivered the delightful serendipity, synchronicity, and synthesis that serious readers savor. — First, the word wander suddenly populated my reading and popped out. Psalm 7 and Habakkuk 3 have a Hebrew word that is hard to translate, but has to do with wandering. Captain Joshua Slocum had much in common with our wandering man. — Louis L'Amour once lived and worked in Klamath Falls, Oregon. So did I! It's where my two oldest sons were born. — Last week, I was introduced to a fourteenth century Berber Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta in a Great Courses lecture. Never heard of him. Never imagined hearing of him again. But there on page 184 of L'Amour's memoir, I find Ibn Battuta again. — The best reading/reality juncture: on Saturday my husband and I were cutting firewood in the forest. While Curt was falling a Tamarack, I took refuge in the cab of the pickup. There is no comparable sound to the crack and clatter of a tall tree tumbling to the ground. While I was listening to that mighty crash I was reading Louis L'Amour's words: I have heard the crash of great trees coming down in the forest."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Noah

    L’Amour was such an amazing, down-to-earth man. He truly had a love for reading and takes the time here to show how that passion persisted throughout his unique adventure-filled life. The memoir reads like a series of coffeehouse conversations, not always structured, sometimes branching off here and there. That would be a criticism, if it weren’t for the fact that his rabbit trails are more exciting than most folks’ tales of high adventure! Lots of good nuggets, and very much inspires the reader L’Amour was such an amazing, down-to-earth man. He truly had a love for reading and takes the time here to show how that passion persisted throughout his unique adventure-filled life. The memoir reads like a series of coffeehouse conversations, not always structured, sometimes branching off here and there. That would be a criticism, if it weren’t for the fact that his rabbit trails are more exciting than most folks’ tales of high adventure! Lots of good nuggets, and very much inspires the reader to read what you like!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rich Flanders

    What a fresh drink of water! I felt at times like we were having a conversation. Straight and true as a Comanche arrow, Louis L'Amour's memoir is a headlong dive into adventure, as thrilling as any of his novels. The book struck some deep chords in me, as I've just written a book of my own odyssey, in ways closely reminiscent of L'Amour's. As he spins out true tales of finding his way in the world as a merchant seaman in Asian seas, wielding a pickaxe in an Arizona mine, or picking up a dollar o What a fresh drink of water! I felt at times like we were having a conversation. Straight and true as a Comanche arrow, Louis L'Amour's memoir is a headlong dive into adventure, as thrilling as any of his novels. The book struck some deep chords in me, as I've just written a book of my own odyssey, in ways closely reminiscent of L'Amour's. As he spins out true tales of finding his way in the world as a merchant seaman in Asian seas, wielding a pickaxe in an Arizona mine, or picking up a dollar or two as a bare knuckle boxer in little towns across the West, it is his thirst for knowledge and love of books that predominates. I have never known or heard of anyone who has read more books, or who has a greater thirst for knowledge, and he complements each of his adventures with references to the classics, as well as lesser known histories and books of reference. From his voluminous reading, as much as from his harrowing adventures, L'Amour became an ''educated''man in the truest sense of the word, with not even a high school education. ''We are, finally, all wanderers in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer, in some way more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.'' I love this book. It already feels like an old friend, a companion of the heart, and just as rare.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kira

    No. I think there is a whole generation that loves his writing and I'm sure they have good reason, but his autobiography was just odd. It started out sounding like he was bragging about how many books he's read, and then it just dragged on. It seemed like everything was an excuse for him not receiving a formal education, and that his experiences were just as good. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. It's sad that he didn't mention anything about his children or his wife, who I'm sure were very impor No. I think there is a whole generation that loves his writing and I'm sure they have good reason, but his autobiography was just odd. It started out sounding like he was bragging about how many books he's read, and then it just dragged on. It seemed like everything was an excuse for him not receiving a formal education, and that his experiences were just as good. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. It's sad that he didn't mention anything about his children or his wife, who I'm sure were very important to him, but apparently they weren't good enough to make it into the book. I did think it was good to read how difficult it was for him to get published, and that should be encouraging to many aspiring authors. (But from the autobiography I can see why it took a long time for publishers to warm to his style.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    This is a memoir of a lifelong love affair with learning and books. Self-taught both through experience and by reading, Louis L'amour fills his account of his life with both action and reflection. The result was a story of a unique journey that I found uplifting. His list of books rivals any "great books" list that I have ever seen and suggests his signature western novels have an unexpected literary foundation. His story of a life of travel and self-education is as interesting as any but it is This is a memoir of a lifelong love affair with learning and books. Self-taught both through experience and by reading, Louis L'amour fills his account of his life with both action and reflection. The result was a story of a unique journey that I found uplifting. His list of books rivals any "great books" list that I have ever seen and suggests his signature western novels have an unexpected literary foundation. His story of a life of travel and self-education is as interesting as any but it is his selection of reading from the 1930s that I found most valuable. Filled with reminders of books you share with the author, the suggestion for those that you have not is sufficient reason for reading this book and a good reference for any life-long reader.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Candice

    Louis L’Amour has blown up my to-read list. Like most people, I had pigeonholed L’Amour as a writer of western novels. Since my favorite books of his are those that take place outside of the west, such as The Walking Drum, I should have known there was more to him. In this book, L’Amour goes wandering through his memories of being a young man. He shares them with us much as an older gentleman does over a cup of coffee, not always with precision or a clear storyline, but always with something int Louis L’Amour has blown up my to-read list. Like most people, I had pigeonholed L’Amour as a writer of western novels. Since my favorite books of his are those that take place outside of the west, such as The Walking Drum, I should have known there was more to him. In this book, L’Amour goes wandering through his memories of being a young man. He shares them with us much as an older gentleman does over a cup of coffee, not always with precision or a clear storyline, but always with something interesting to say. Like many of us, his memories usually include what specific book was in his pocket. I took the time to look up those books and many are now obscure, but they are interesting to me because they partially formed him. As a youngster, he had a drive to educate himself by reading in the hope of one day becoming a writer and because he wanted to know things. Though he read whatever he could find in those early years without any system, he read many classics and would choose to read to the exclusion of all else, except work and occasionally boxing. Lest you picture him reading in cozy beds, much of his reading took place while he was on what we would consider adventures. He read on ships at port in Asia, while in boxcars, while assessing mines and on cold beaches while waiting for a job on a ship. He regularly experienced hunger and privation when work was short. He lived through the Depression as a young man. He unexpectedly walked out of Death Valley after a mining job ended and his ride failed to arrive. His personal experiences gave the toll of truth to his written words. The book touches on his approach to writing. He researched his novels extensively and started the next short story or novel when the last page of the previous one left the typewriter. He started with short stories and moved to novels. He read mainly nonfiction, but he wrote page-turners and knew the importance of action on the first page. He was methodical, patient and hard-working. It is no wonder that he eventually found success. He earned a living by writing, but he wrote because he loved telling a story and it was a pleasure to read snatches of his own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I have never read one of his books in my life. I might have to read some now. A friend recommended this as I love memoirs! I was not expecting to love this book so much. I have to say the only part I did not like is where he says the buffalo had to go, no they didn't. White man thought the Native Americans had to go as well. I'm not in belief of any of those things as they are crap! But onto the book! I would never have thought he was this sort of man that wandered around doing jobs here and th I have never read one of his books in my life. I might have to read some now. A friend recommended this as I love memoirs! I was not expecting to love this book so much. I have to say the only part I did not like is where he says the buffalo had to go, no they didn't. White man thought the Native Americans had to go as well. I'm not in belief of any of those things as they are crap! But onto the book! I would never have thought he was this sort of man that wandered around doing jobs here and there and reading so many books. I think it's wonderful! Not to say that a lot of the things were not hard, but just that you never know anyone totally in this world. It is amazing what you would find out about people in general if you would just sit down and listen to them as Louis did. And I love, love, love the fact that he read so many books every year. He was a bookaholic like me and many other people. Granted no one reads the same kinds of things but that is not the point, the point is to read, learn, love whatever it is that you want. Take great joy in going to other lands and dream worlds. It's a wonderful escape and you can learn so much. I am also glad he listed 84 books he read at the end of the story. Obviously he read way more than that, but still. I hope to look some of these up and read them myself. He opened my eyes to some things and that is the great thing about memoirs etc, they open your eyes when they still seem to be closed. Just a few paragraphs can make you see things in a different light. Again, I am so glad I read this book and even if you have never read any of his books before, like me, you should read this, it will not disappoint!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I have never read another Louis L'Amour book in my life, but after reading a brief review of this book, I picked it up at my local library. It has been one of those books that, almost 20 years after reading, I look upon as having been very influential in shaping my perspective of a specific people and time. He describes his life during the depression era as a "hobo" and is very careful to differentiate the hobos of the time from what we would consider "bums". This is the story of his traveling t I have never read another Louis L'Amour book in my life, but after reading a brief review of this book, I picked it up at my local library. It has been one of those books that, almost 20 years after reading, I look upon as having been very influential in shaping my perspective of a specific people and time. He describes his life during the depression era as a "hobo" and is very careful to differentiate the hobos of the time from what we would consider "bums". This is the story of his traveling throughout the country and the various jobs he held as well as the books he voraciously read. It would be very difficult to find many contemporaries nearly as well read no matter how much their education cost. The subtitle says it all: the "education" of a wondering man. This is an excellent example that rich, real-life experience as well as an excellent reading list can provide an "education" that is truly priceless. He kept a book journal that I found fascinating which encouraged me to do the same.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Just as wonderful if not more with this second read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Clayton Roach

    Imagine your grandpa telling you stories about what life was like in the olden days; that’s my comparison for what the book is. Louis L’Amour, a wise man and great storyteller, reveals what life was like in his upbringing and how he effectively learned as he traveled the world. I really appreciated the detail he went into as he explained what the books he read meant to him in that season of his life. It’s crazy to think one person can be so well immersed in all sorts of literature. He literally Imagine your grandpa telling you stories about what life was like in the olden days; that’s my comparison for what the book is. Louis L’Amour, a wise man and great storyteller, reveals what life was like in his upbringing and how he effectively learned as he traveled the world. I really appreciated the detail he went into as he explained what the books he read meant to him in that season of his life. It’s crazy to think one person can be so well immersed in all sorts of literature. He literally read just about every book under the sun. That is someone who I strive to be. Although he definitely went on some long tangents that were unnecessary (like some old men do)he provides great encouragement to find the right road to travel on.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Hicks

    This is the literary memoir of Louis L’Amour, the prolific Western writer. I was pointed to this book by James V. Schall’s book, “The Life of the Mind”. If you consider yourself a lover of books then you have found a kindred spirit in Mr. L’Amour. Growing up in the Depression Era, L’Amour left school at 15 and took off West working as a lumberjack, mine caretaker, merchant sailor, cowboy, and boxer. During this time he was reading always. The book is written in a relaxed, conversational tone and This is the literary memoir of Louis L’Amour, the prolific Western writer. I was pointed to this book by James V. Schall’s book, “The Life of the Mind”. If you consider yourself a lover of books then you have found a kindred spirit in Mr. L’Amour. Growing up in the Depression Era, L’Amour left school at 15 and took off West working as a lumberjack, mine caretaker, merchant sailor, cowboy, and boxer. During this time he was reading always. The book is written in a relaxed, conversational tone and invites the reader to sit back and relax with a drink. He does not romanticize his life or his literary journey. In fact, he is brutally honest about the difficulty he faced given his early life as a nomad. But most importantly, he affirms again and again that an education is not something you “get”. It is something you live, and you live it truly only if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. He was as receptive and respectful of the intelligence of a university professor as he was the wisdom and extraordinary knowledge of an aging cowhand. And this is a true lesson for the modern student: that experts, whether self-proclaimed or exalted by culture, do not have a monopoly on knowledge. L’Amour is also a huge proponent of expansive reading. He had no prejudice in his literary taste. I’m not exactly sure how to handle that personally, but I believe there is a sense of humility in this posture. Although never explicitly stated, L’Amour has a wonderful enchantment in his view of the world. There is a story behind everything and every person , and it is worth listening to. I appreciated this book greatly and would recommend it to nearly anyone for its ease of reading and engaging content. He shares great wisdom from both the reading side of books as well as the writing side.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Celeste Batchelor

    I thoroughly enjoyed large portions of this book. L'Amoir only includes a short book list at the end. All the other books he mentions throughout the book. I wish he had just made a huge master list and put it in the back of the book to make referencing easier on the reader. Not that I plan to follow his list myself, but just as a neat look at what he studied over his lifetime. I wish I could look at his personal library. His history knowledge is quite extensive! I will probably never read quite I thoroughly enjoyed large portions of this book. L'Amoir only includes a short book list at the end. All the other books he mentions throughout the book. I wish he had just made a huge master list and put it in the back of the book to make referencing easier on the reader. Not that I plan to follow his list myself, but just as a neat look at what he studied over his lifetime. I wish I could look at his personal library. His history knowledge is quite extensive! I will probably never read quite that much Eastern history, but it good to know it is out there if I felt the need. What I gained the most from this book is his deep Love of Learning. He read for the sheer joy of learning what he didn't know, and like so many others, learned he had so much more to learn. I do wonder about the reasons why he left home at age 15 to be a wanderer. He doesn't say, but very few young people do that without a painful reason. I could see so much of his generation in this book. My grandfather was roughly the same age, also fighting in WWII. There are similarities in their thoughts, mannerisms, and work ethic that made me think of my grandfather and feel close to him again. That was a really nice unexpected bonus. I highly recommend this book. It is a very good read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Hurley

    Louis L'Amour was a great man, and this is the account of how he became so — the books he read, the places he traveled, the people he knew, the stories he heard. And how he conditioned himself to evaluate and act upon knowledge, histories, human experience. "I am not some mill that grinds out stories simply to make a living. I am a man who loves to tell stories, who loves to share what he has seen and where history has been. I would like others to enjoy, as i have, the ancient towns and the old s Louis L'Amour was a great man, and this is the account of how he became so — the books he read, the places he traveled, the people he knew, the stories he heard. And how he conditioned himself to evaluate and act upon knowledge, histories, human experience. "I am not some mill that grinds out stories simply to make a living. I am a man who loves to tell stories, who loves to share what he has seen and where history has been. I would like others to enjoy, as i have, the ancient towns and the old streets, the broken arches, the clock towers, the fallen walls where old smells linger, even after thousands of years."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I was never a fan of westerns but many years ago I was babysitting and forgot to bring my book. In their bookcase was nothing but westerns and most were by Mr. L’Amour so I read one and was very pleasantly surprised. It was a great story. This book is different from his westerns, he’s sharing how he educated himself by reading, traveling and listening to everyone who would share with him. He had quite a life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Relstuart

    Never stop learning. And real education is often not found in a classroom. This is the story of man that sold over a million books he wrote. And no college degree. He traveled the world and had great adventures. He reminds me of the uncles in the movie "Second Hand lions" only his stories are true. And this is his stories in his own words. Never stop learning. And real education is often not found in a classroom. This is the story of man that sold over a million books he wrote. And no college degree. He traveled the world and had great adventures. He reminds me of the uncles in the movie "Second Hand lions" only his stories are true. And this is his stories in his own words.

  27. 4 out of 5

    CindySR

    I expected some great stories but instead got lists of all the books he's read, his thoughts on world history and being a writer. It's wonderful that's how he educated himself but I wanted cool stories from a long interesting life! Disappointed. I expected some great stories but instead got lists of all the books he's read, his thoughts on world history and being a writer. It's wonderful that's how he educated himself but I wanted cool stories from a long interesting life! Disappointed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    An enjoyable read to close the year, a book about reading and a deep love of books. L’Amour was a reader’s reader. Not only does every chapter include many titles he read, but a rich bibliography is included in the back of the book. This will shape many of my future TBR lists!

  29. 4 out of 5

    AB

    Just going out there and saying that I have not heard of L'Amour before I picked this book up. It was a really invigorating look at the life of someone that has wandered around always looking to learn. Really, this memoir is about the education (since the title now that I'm writing this out) rather than a I did X and Y in this year. Events from his life are jumping points to go into his education, what books he read, who he spoke to and where he went. What really stood out was L'Amour's passion Just going out there and saying that I have not heard of L'Amour before I picked this book up. It was a really invigorating look at the life of someone that has wandered around always looking to learn. Really, this memoir is about the education (since the title now that I'm writing this out) rather than a I did X and Y in this year. Events from his life are jumping points to go into his education, what books he read, who he spoke to and where he went. What really stood out was L'Amour's passion to learn no matter where he was or what he was doing. Quite frankly, I found it a bit inspiring. Good light reading material while at work (I think L'Amour would like that).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Micah DeHenau

    An excellent memoir from a great writer and a compelling call to action for reading. Although most most of L'Amor's books are fiction based, this biopic lends significant credibility to how real and in-tune his characters were as well the stories and adventures he weaves them through. L'Amore has filled him self with so much knowledge through books and real-life experience, I wouldn't be surprised if many of his stories are accidentally true An excellent memoir from a great writer and a compelling call to action for reading. Although most most of L'Amor's books are fiction based, this biopic lends significant credibility to how real and in-tune his characters were as well the stories and adventures he weaves them through. L'Amore has filled him self with so much knowledge through books and real-life experience, I wouldn't be surprised if many of his stories are accidentally true

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