Fiction & LiteratureBiography & MemoirWesternsLiterary Biography & MemoirArtist & Thinker Biography & MemoirGenre Fiction
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.From the Paperback edition.
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Louis L'Amour's poem, "I Haven't Read Gone with the Wind," includes the line, "For every book that they have read, I've read forty-nine." When L'Amour penned this, he was not speaking hyperbolically. He quite literally read more books in a single year--indeed, every single year--than many read in a lifetime. In "Education of a Wandering Man," the famous author of Westerns chronicles his life during the 1930s. At fifteen, he left his home in North Dakota to become a hobo--a traveling working man. He traveled extensively throughout the world for the next decade plus, while reading every book he could get his hands on. As the book title suggests, he truly educated himself during his wandering years, and would he have completed such learning in a scholastic setting, he would surely have attained multiple advanced degrees.This was an excellent book to read for several reasons. First, it sheds light on a man who I thought was "just" a writer of Westerns. As it turns out, L'Amour was a lover of stories, nature and knowledge, and he prided himself on the historical accuracy of his books. Even if the characters were fictional, he took great pains to describe the settings, the land, the customs and even the language as they really would have been. Second, one learns in the book that L'Amour had a wide and varied past that included stints as a miner, sailor, prospector and boxer. Put simply, Louis L'Amour was a man's man, a hard-working, no-nonsense, no-excuses kind of guy, but with a softer poetry-loving, be-kind-to-animals side, too. Third, the book introduces the reader to a wide range of characters who turn up in L'Amour's life, most of whom are unlike anyone most of us might meet today and would be worthy of biographies (could they be written) in their own right.I don't really have anything bad to say about this book. It's an inspirational, educational read about a man who should be a role model for us all.more
Should have been titled, Education of a Rambling Man, for that was the essence of the man and this loosely structured autobiography. Okay, okay, I get it that L'Amour educated himself through reading, but there wasn't enough critical evaluation of all of that reading for my appetite. I wanted to know WHAT specifically he learned from so much reading, but his pastime seemed more obsessive in nature or done purely out of boredom and not for any great quest for insight. I don't recall reading any passages at all about the sex life of a cowboy, for example, but surely from all of his readings he should know we readers need a sprinkling of that in his own autobiography! Why the cover photo of such a ruggedly handsome Marlboro Man and then no sharing of sensuality in his autobiography, other than to write over and over he was passionate about reading, and then eventually took up writing? Did he hook up with hookers in Shanghai or not? Did he deflower any damsels in the Dust Bowl? The more detailed passages describing how he cheated death on the edge of wilderness were interesting, but the endless lists of books he read or reread in different ports while waiting to be paid or transported became fatiguing. I didn't finish the book, as my mind began to wander too, and not being such a voracious reader as he, I intend to be more selective.more
In this book, L'Amour tells the story of how books gave him the education he didn't get in school. For personal and economic reasons (this was during the depression) he had to leave school and home and become a wandering worker - earning money wherever he could. He had an appetite for books and knowledge - so he decided to educate himself by reading anything he could get his hands on. He often gave up food so he could read more books.When he finally was able to settle down, he focused his reading on specific topics that he wanted to learn about. He eventually became a successful author because he took time to learn of what he was writing. You'll not find historical errors in his books! Since he read voraciously, he learned what does and does not work in successful writing.He says the greatest compliment he wanted was for someone to read his books and say "Yes, that's how it really was."He realizes his education was unorthodox, and he says he wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but it worked very well for him.Anyone who loves "books about books" will probably enjoy this memoir. He doesn't go into details that most memoirs do...such as how he met his wife, what fighting in WWII was like, the birth of his children, etc, but instead he focuses on the books he was reading while he was having certain adventures - and what those books taught him.more
I have read a lot of his novels when a young boy, my older brother I think still owns them all. What had always struck me about his stories was the fact that even though they were fiction, they felt true. And as he says in his book, they are basically true, the stories happened, just maybe not exactly the way it was written, but somewhere and at sometime, it did happen.What I really enjoyed about this is that he read for the same reason I do. To learn. And lke him, my reading wanders, from History, to Biography, Classics, Plays, even some poetry, and all points inbetween. Wherever the mood strikes, or an oppertune book presents itself.I have learned much, and each time I read a book, it usually sparks an interest to read more about the subject, the times. the people, or person, or events mentioned, but not fully covered by the present book. Then I make a note and try to hunt a book down that will help fill in the gaps. Sometimes I am lucky, but other times I am still looking.more
This was assigned reading for some English class or other. I think the teacher chose well. Anyway, it’s an excellent book. Louis L'Amour had an interesting life. This book definitely helps to inspire one to read more.more
First of all, I'm not one of L'Amour's big fans. I've read a few of his books over the years, but was never a rabid reader of westerns. I much enjoyed his novel, Hondo - one of his early successes - but didn't continue to follow him that closely. But since I knew he was one of the most popular and best-selling writers in American for forty-some years - and still sells a lot of books since his death more than twenty years ago - the idea of a "memoir" from this guy intrigued me. And it started out pretty well, telling a bit about his boyhood and first jobs and a life-long love affair with books. But then it just seemed he kind of lost his way, blathering on in a not very organized way about all the books he had read in his life and how our approach to history here in America was skewed and incomplete. Then he told small bits and pieces of his life on the road and at sea, visits to the Far East and other exotic places. But details, personal and other, are few and far between. It seemed he didn't want to give away anything very personal about his life. He dwelled way too long on how he had educated himself by reading - encyclopedically. And I love books too, so this should have been interesting, but in the end I found it simply boring and bland, and skimmed the last hundred pages or so, looking for some nuggets about L'Amour himself. He did serve in WWII, but he glosses over this in a few scant pages with almost no details at all, as if it were no more than an inconvenient interruption. So the book stayed boring. This book was published after L'Amour died, and I can't help wondering if he would have published it himself. Because, as all of his readers and fans know, he was a much MUCH better writer than this book demonstrates. If you want to read - and appreciate - Louis L'Amour, read his westerns. They are some of the best in the genre - up there with Zane Grey, Luke Short and (later) Elmer Kelton. Unfortunately, this so-called "memoir" is not worth the time.more
This man really did live a life that his heroes live in his fiction. The chapter that describes his two day walk across the Mojave Desert with only a can of peaches for survival is worth the price of the book alone. A wonderful read.more
A memoir of a lifelong love affair with learning and books. Self-taught through both experience and reading Louis L'amour's account of his life is a unique journey that I found uplifting. His list of books he read in the 1930s is a good reference for any life-long reader.more
This book is not an autobiography nor, despite the subtitle, much of a memoir and Mr. L'Amour states that right up front on pages 2 and 3. To some extent, I wish it had been, for Mr. L'Amour has clearly led quite an exciting life and most of the interesting bits he chooses to defer for another day. What it intends is "a story of an adventure in education." Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much adventure in it that story. It starts well with some of his days as a hobo and his introduction to the Little Blue Book series of classics, then segues into a stint as a solitary mine assessor when there was nothing to do but work and read books left behind at the mine by a schoolteacher. However, as the book progresses and his life (presumably) becomes less adventurous, much of the content becomes "I wanted to know about Africa, so I read these five books; I wanted to know about frontier settlers, so I read these eight books." This isn't all unfortunate, as I shall talk about below, but, on the whole, I don't think the book delivered on its promise of adventure.I also think that Mr. L'Amour missed out on a great opportunity. A college professor of mine once said that everything you write needs to answer the question, "So what?" What I would have loved here…and what is conspicuously absent…is any reflection on what the books meant to him, how they affected his thoughts and beliefs, what impact their content had on his life.A real biography about Mr. L'Amour would be a book worth trying. Hobo, sailor in the Far East, miner, soldier, boxer, author, lumberman…there's a lot of interesting life there. However, I could never escape the feeling in this particular book that what we were getting was not just "here's my life," but a carefully cultivated picture—perhaps a character out of one of his own novels: tall, handsome, laconic, self-reliant, moral, brave, competent with his fists yet intellectual and compassionate. There is just a bit too much artifice in lines like "I have known hunger of the belly kind many times over, but I have known a worse hunger: the need to know and learn." Of course, it is understandable that an autobiographer would want to present himself in a light he finds appealing. However, in this case, it sat at odds with his decided air of ingenuousness. I find myself asking, would a frank and forthright cowboy really spend much time making sure I believed him to be frank and forthright?The value of this book lies almost as a reference work. Mr. L'Amour will pick a topic and give you his summary of the books he found most valuable on the topic. Interested in Turkestan?...read W. Bartold, Howorth, Pan-Ku b and Burton Watson. Want to know about the Apaches?...try Major John G. Bourke and John C. Cremony. I don't see this as a book I will ever reread. However, I do see it as a book I might consult, for there were many topics he mentioned that I would find interesting. At the end of the volume, he gathers much of his reading into a series of lists that might be seen as his analog of a Boxall 1001 list of books…a L'Amour 731.I have to be interested in a person who can talk about his favorite World War I literature as The Case of Sergeant Grischa and All Quiet on the Western Front and then immediately move to Burrough's The Mastermind of Mars. It fits my own eclectic/eccentric reading tastes. However, I wish we'd had more in this book…more of the life stories, more of the man, more of the adventure in education.more
This is my new favorite book. I'm not much into reading Westerns, and as such was not previously familiar with L'Amour's work. But this book really spoke to me as a fellow bibliophile.L'Amour was largely self-educated. He believed that you should read; read anything, read everything, Read while you are waiting for the bus or waiting in line. It doesn't matter what you start reading, only that you are reading.This is a book following his travels as a young man through a multitude of professions (not, as so many have said, to research his writing, but because he had to eat.) and climates, and the books and education he found for himself along the way.I especially love the bibliographies at then end of the lists he kept after 1930 of every book he read.Read this book. It's intellectual, but written on a down-to-earth level that anyone will enjoy. Just read it, damnit!more
I found L'Amour's autobiographical account of his education very inspiring. No matter how you feel about westerns, you'll find that L'Amour is a master storyteller. His vast reading informs his writing, and makes it far richer than average genre fiction.more
Very entertaining work that details many of the events that obviously influenced the author's later works. Also includes a listing of books read by the author during his "yondering years". This list itself serves as a good body of recommended reading.more
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