Dead Man's Walk

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For the footpath in England, see Dead Man's Walk, Oxford.
Dead Man's Walk
LarryMcMurtry DeadMansWalk.jpg
First edition
Author Larry McMurtry
Country United States
Language English
Series Lonesome Dove series
Genre Western
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
September 1995
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 488 p. (hardback edition) & 488 p. (paperback edition)
ISBN 0-684-80753-X
OCLC 32625743
813/.54 20
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.

Plot introduction[edit]

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.

Plot summary[edit]

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"[edit]

The names in parentheses are the names of the actors who portrayed the specified character in the movie.

Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science[edit]

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.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations[edit]

It was later made into a miniseries starring David Arquette as Augustus McCrae and Jonny Lee Miller as Woodrow F. Call.

External links[edit]