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Western

See also the Best Westerns of the 20th Century list by the Western Writers of America.

Riders of the Purple Sage

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

In Utah in the 1870's, Jane Withersteen inherits a valuable ranch with a spring on it. The Mormon men in the area covet the ranch and pressure Jane to sell it or marry them. Jane will not tolerate polygamy, and resists. The persecution of her escalates, and Lassiter, a notorious gunman, arrives at the Withersteen ranch in search of the grave of his long-lost sister, and stays on as Jane's defender. This novel was written in 1912, when women could not yet vote and Mormons were seen as somewhat exotic. It was highly sucessful and did much to establish the Western genre and the prototype liberated woman and mysterious loner characters.

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Leaphorn/Chee

The Leaphorn/Chee series by Tony Hillerman

Jim Chee is a young officer on the Navajo Tribal Police force, and Joe Leaphorn is his lieutenant. These stories are satisfying as police procedural crime mysteries, but where their real value lies is that they provide a detailed glimpse into native American culture and life in the Southwest on an indian reservation.

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Hondo

Hondo by Louis L’Amour

Angie Lowe and her son Johnny were deserted in the Arizona desert by her no-good husband Ed. Hondo Lane meets Angie while he is on a scouting mission. When Angie and Johnny are captured by the indians, Hondo sets out to rescue them.

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Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

A Pulitzer Prize-winning western novel that focuses on the relationship of several retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana. It was broadcast on TV as a four-part mini-series. The mini-series was awarded six Emmy Awards and was nominated for 13 others.

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Shane

Shane by Jack Schaefer

In 1889 Wyoming, a mysterious stranger named Shane stops at the Starrett homestead to ask for water for himself and his horse. Shane is secretive about his past, but the Starretts take him on as a hired hand. Shane becomes embroiled in the "cattlemen vs. homesteaders" conflict, when his past becomes revealed.

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The Virginian

The Virginian by Owen Wister

This book, first published in 1902, is considered by many to exemplify the American Western novel. Wister certainly established the code of the West, and the stereotypical figures of the tough but genteel and courageous cowboy, (the one wearing the white hat and riding the white horse), the spinster schoolmarm from back East, horse rustlers, and the corrupt villain beyond redemption. In fact, the novel contains a scene constituting the first known "shootout" in American literature.

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