Dead Man's Walk
|Series||Lonesome Dove series|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||488 p. (hardback edition) & 488 p. (paperback edition)|
|LC Class||PS3563.A319 D38 1995|
|Preceded by||Streets of Laredo|
|Followed by||Comanche Moon|
Dead Man's Walk is a 1995 novel by Larry McMurtry. It is the third book published in the Lonesome Dove series but the first installment in terms of chronology. McMurtry wrote a fourth segment to the Lonesome Dove chronicle, Comanche Moon, which describes the events of the central characters' lives between Dead Man's Walk and Lonesome Dove. The second novel in the Lonesome Dove series was the 1993 sequel to the original, called Streets of Laredo.
Dead Man's Walk details the earliest adventures of the young Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call as they join up with the Texas Rangers on a fictional expedition based loosely on the historical Texan Santa Fe Expedition of 1841.
In 1842, young Texas Rangers Woodrow F. Call and Augustus McCrae are introduced quickly and brutally to the rangering life on their first expedition, in which they are stalked by the Comanche war chief Buffalo Hump. After a narrow escape, the rangers return to civilization, only to quickly join an expedition to capture and annex Santa Fe, part of New Mexico (the part east of the Rio Grande) for Texas. The expedition, led by pirate and soldier of fortune, Caleb Cobb, is ultimately a failure; of the 200 initial adventurers, only about 40 survive, falling to starvation, bears, and Indians (in one memorable chapter, the Comanche ignite the grasses surrounding the ranger camp, forcing rangers to jump over the edge of a canyon to escape the flames), only to be swiftly arrested by the Mexican authorities. Those survivors are forced to march the Jornada del Muerto ("Dead Man's Walk") to El Paso, and many, Mexican and Texan alike, die along the journey. The Texas contingent is reduced to ten persons when the captives panic after they observe cavalry drilling and are slaughtered in a blood lust as they flee. At their destination, the ten are forced to gamble for their lives by drawing a bean from a jar - a white bean signals life, a black bean death. Call and McCrae are among the five survivors. The last Rangers then return to Texas, escorting an Englishwoman and her son, who have also been held captive by the Mexicans.
During the course of this book, three other familiar and important characters are introduced. At a general store, McCrae meets Clara Forsythe, later to marry Robert Allen and become Clara Allen, Augustus's old flame in the original novel. In the same town, Call meets a prostitute named Maggie, later to become the mother of his illegitimate son, Newt. On their journey, they are tracked by the notorious Comanche warrior Buffalo Hump, future father of Blue Duck, whom they will hunt during their later days as Texas Rangers.
Characters in "Dead Man's Walk"
The names in parentheses are the names of the actors who portrayed the specified character in the movie.
- Augustus McCrae (David Arquette) – Texas Ranger
- Woodrow Call (Jonny Lee Miller) – Texas Ranger
- William "Long Bill" Coleman (Ray McKinnon) – Texas Ranger
- Johnny Carthage (Tim Blake Nelson) – Texas Ranger
- Colonel Caleb Cobb (F. Murray Abraham) – pirate who leads the Texas-Santa Fe expedition
- Bigfoot Wallace (Keith Carradine) – Texas Ranger scout
- Shadrach (Harry Dean Stanton) – Texas Ranger scout
- Matilda Roberts (Patricia Childress) – whore, also known as "The Great Western"
- Captain Salazar (Edward James Olmos) – Mexican Army captain who takes the Texas prisoners in New Mexico
- Major Laroche (Joaquim de Almeida) – Frenchman in the Mexican Army, who takes the prisoners to the leper colony
- Buffalo Hump (Eric Schweig) – a notorious Comanche war chief and father of Blue Duck
- Kicking Wolf (Jonathan Joss) – Comanche warrior, accomplished horse thief
- Clara Forsythe (Jennifer Garner) – young lady in a general store in Austin, who 'smites' Gus
- Lady Lucinda Carey (Haviland Morris) – Scottish nobility, leper
- Willy (Adam Lamberg) – Lady Carey's son
- Mrs. Chubb – Lady Carey's attendant
- Emerald (Akosua Busia) – Lady Carey's African attendant
- Maggie Tilton (Gretchen Mol) – a prostitute who loves Woodrow F. Call and the mother of his illegitimate son Newt.
Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science
Although the exact time frame of the story is not given, the historical context of the events occurring sometime in the early 1840s is authentic. The Republic of Texas did indeed attempt to annex part of New Mexico, in what historians refer to as the Texan Santa Fe Expedition. As seen in this story, it was a failure.