Lonesome Dove

From Academic Kids

Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry, is a western genre novel and the first book of the Lonesome Dove series. The story follows the lives of retired Texas Rangers and cohorts as they drive cattle across the country to the unsettled lands of Montana. The book was filmed as a television miniseries in 1989. It starred Robert Duvall as Augustus McRae, Tommy Lee Jones as Woodrow F. Call, Diane Lane as Lorena Wood, Anjelica Huston as Clara Allen, and Danny Glover as Joshua Deets. The series was awarded six Emmy Awards and was nominated for 13 others.



McMurtry originally developed the tale in 1972 as a theatrical motion picture entitled The Streets of Laredo (a title later used for the sequel), which was to have starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart, and directed by Peter Bogdanovich. When plans fell through, the original screenplay went into limbo. McMurtry later resurrected the unproduced screenplay as a full-length novel, which became a best seller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Story

The story focuses on the relationship of several retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.

Two of them, Captain Augustus "Gus" McCrae and Captain Woodrow F. Call, run a ranch in the small Texas town of Lonesome Dove. McCrae is a romantic figure whose happy-go-lucky nature and good fortune with women prohibits him from doing any real work around the farm. Call, however, is a no-nonsense, hard-working taskmaster who tolerates very little and McCrae even less. Working with them are Joshua Deets, a black man who is an excellent tracker and scout, and Pea-Eye Parker, another former Ranger. They adopted Newt, a boy who may be Call's illegitimate son by a prostitute named Maggie, after his mother died; at the time of the story, Newt is seventeen. Call, dedicated to raising the boy, does not admit, least of all himself, that he is Newt's father. The last Ranger, Jake Spoon, is a ladies' man and gambler. While in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Jake fired upon another player who assaulted him, but accidentally killed a dentist, who was also the mayor, and whose brother, July Johnson, is the sheriff.

Jake returns with Deets to Lonesome Dove to evade Johnson, who is under pressure from his sister-in-law to bring Spoon to trial, despite the accidental nature of his brother's death. Reunited with McRae and Call, his description of Montana inspires Call to gather a herd of cattle and drive them to Montana. Call is attracted to the romantic notion of finally having something to do besides sitting idly at home, and of being able to see one of the last pieces of untamed land before the end of the Old West.

Historical Parallels

Despite the characters being Texas Rangers rather than professional cattlemen, Gus and Call were modeled after real-life cattle drivers Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight, and many parallels exist between the stories. When Goodnight and Loving's guide, Bose Ikard, died, Goodnight carved a wooden tombstone for him, just as Call does for Deets. Upon Loving's death, Goodnight brought him home to be buried in Texas, just as Call does for Augustus.


External Links

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