Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Outlaw Josey Wales

By Forrest Carter
Leisure, March 2010

Originally published as The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales in 1973

Few men came tougher than Josey Wales. He survived the raiders who massacred his family. He survived as a guerrilla soldier alongside Jesse James in the Missouri-Kansas border feuds. He lived through the Civil War as a Confederate rebel.

When the war ended Josey Wales chose the hard road to Texas in search of a new life. Texas was more than 1,000 miles away. Behind him rode the Bluecoats. In front hostile Indians barred the way. And all around there were braggarts and bounty hunters ready to try their luck against the outlaw called Josey Wales.

What can be said about this book that hasn’t been said before? In my opinion it is one of the best westerns ever. Forrest Carter’s storytelling is extremely powerful and will strike a chord with your emotions, have you caring about his characters. Carter blends touches of true history with his tale seamlessly, his descriptions very visual.

None of the characters are painted as being particularly good or bad, they are people who find themselves thrown together by circumstances. People who have lost a previous way of life, have nothing to live for, but will find hope and the promise of a new life as the story progresses.

There is plenty of action, often stark and brutal, such as Wales taking on the Comancheros, but it is the dialogue that provides the most memorable scenes: for instance who could possibly forget the tense sequence when Wales confronts Ten Bears and delivers his promise of life or death? I’ll guarantee you’ll be holding your breath waiting for Ten Bear’s decision.

Once started this book is almost impossible to put down. I can only finish by saying The Outlaw Josey Wales is a must read for every western fan.

This book is the fifth in Leisure’s Classic Film Collection, you can read more about this series here.


Joanne Walpole said...

I read this after I saw the film in the 80s when I was a teen. As I recall it's one of those classic instances where the book is better than the film and the film's good so that tells you something.

David Cranmer said...

A classic I haven't read yet.


You know I love this book - not sure if I think it's better than the film. But since I saw the movie first I saw Clint when I read this.


One of my all-time favorites. His other books are good, too, including his "autobiography" THE EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE, which is said to be all made-up. Carter had an interesting history--i.e., he was quite the boozing nut.