“It is this by which we measure a man, by what he does with his life, by what he creates to leave behind,” – Louis L’Amour. These words describe perhaps better than any the essence of noted western author, Louis L’Amour, the man who set the standard for the western genre.
The Sixth Shotgun by Louis L’Amour, edited by Jon Tuska, contains two of L’Amour’s most famous works, the short work from which the book gets its title, ‘The Sixth Shotgun,’ a tale about a stagecoach robbery and frontier justice, that details in pithy passages the course of justice in many frontier towns of the Old West. The longer work, ‘The Riders of the Ruby Hills,’ is one of L’Amour’s typical range war novels, with lone hero, Ross Haney, facing off against gangs of killers and ne’er-do-wells, while contending for the hand of the fair maiden.
For fans of westerns, Tuska’s editorial notes, giving L’Amour’s biography and discussing his writing style, are fascinating. The fact, for instance, that L’Amour’s novels were often written in first draft with no editing before publication, leading to inconsistencies and errors, was something I was not aware of. Especially considering that the short stories he wrote for pulp magazines were strenuously edited. That said, L’Amour’s stories still stand the test of time. They are full of action, vivid descriptions, as well as his trademark hard-nosed philosophy.
This one is a must-read for western fans. I give it four stars.