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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Reading the free range

The advent of eBooks has made it easier and cheaper than ever to pick up public domain (out of copyright) books. There are some great titles available  as free downloads and many of these are westerns and classic westerns at that.

One of my favourite websites for public domain titles is Feedbooks which has an archive of 115 public domain westerns from authors such as Zane Grey, Max Brand and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Titles are available to download in all formats - Kindle, Epub, PDF - Western fans will be delighted and find some truly genre defining works among the titles on offer - Riders of the Purple Sage for instance should be read by anyone who has even a passing interest in the genre.

"Riders of the Purple Sage is Zane Grey's best-known novel originally published in 1912. Most critics agree that it played a significant role in shaping the formula of the popular Western genre."

Another essential title is The Log of a Cowboy which offers a first hand look at what it was really like to be a working cowboy - The Log of a Cowboy is an account of a five-month drive of 3,000 cattle from Brownsville, Texas, to Montana in 1882 along the Great Western Cattle Trail. Although the book is fiction, it is firmly based on Adams's own experiences on the trail, and it is considered by many to be the best account of cowboy life in literature. Adams was disgusted by the unrealistic cowboy fiction being published in his day; The Log of a Cowboy was his response. It is still in print, and even modern reviewers consider it a compelling classic. The Chicago Herald said: "As a narrative of cowboy life, Andy Adams' book is clearly the real thing. It carries its own certificate of authentic first-hand experience on every page."

Check out Feedbooks western section HERE 
and whilst there check out the titles in other categories, particularly the mystery/thriller section which contains some great classic pulp material.


Randy Johnson said...

Have you tried Project Gutenberg?

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Randy - Guttenberg is great but I find Feedbooks much easier to navigate

Ron Scheer said...

Your comments about Andy Adams are dead right. He was the real deal. He even went so far as not to include women and love stories in his novels. Too unrealistic.

A bookseller years ago in Valentine, Nebraska, put a copy of LOG OF A COWBOY into my hands and said that Larry McMurtry had cribbed from it to write LONESOME DOVE. He very well could have. Just added 2-3 women characters to bring it up to date...

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Ron -For many years I thought Log of a Cowboy was non fiction, an actual log of a cowboy. The reason for this I used to own a paperback copy that was so tattered the covers had fallen off and all I had was the actual story - guess that proves how authentically written the book is.

John Sinclair said...

'Log Of A Cowboy' was one of the references for the TV series 'Rawhide'.
The producer, Charles Marquis Warren, tried to make it as authentic as possible, using that book (even though it was fiction)and a diary written by trail boss George C. Duffield to try and give as true a picture as possible of the hardships faced by these brave men.