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Louis L'Amour

America’s Favorite Storyteller

Louis L’Amour is undoubtedly the best-selling frontier novelist of all time. He is the only American-born author in history to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his life’s work.

His Childhood and Family

Of French-Irish descent, Mr. L’Amour could trace his own family in North America back to the early 1600s and follow their steady progression westward, "always on the frontier." As a boy growing up in Jamestown, North Dakota, he absorbed all he could about his family’s frontier heritage, including the story of his great-grandfather who was scalped by Sioux warriors.

His "Yondering Days"

Spurred by an eager curiosity and desire to broaden his horizons, Mr. L'Amour left home at the age of fifteen and enjoyed a wide variety of jobs, including seaman, lumberjack, elephant handler, skinner of dead cattle, miner, and as an officer in the transportation corps during World War II. During his "yondering" days, he also circled the world on a freighter, sailed a dhow on the Red Sea, was shipwrecked in the West Indies and stranded in the Mojave desert. He won fifty-one of fifty-nine fights as a professional boxer and worked as a journalist and lecturer. He was a voracious reader and a collector of rare books. His personal library contained 17,000 volumes.

The Storyteller

After developing a widespread following for his many frontier and adventure stories written for fiction magazines, Mr. L'Amour published his first full-length novel, Hondo, in the United States in 1953. Every one of his more than 100 books is in print and there are nearly 260 million copies in print worldwide, making him one of the best selling authors in modern literary history. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and more than forty-five of his novels and stories have been made into feature films and television movies.

His hardcover bestsellers include The Lonesome Gods, The Walking Drum (his twelfth-century historical novel), Jubal Sackett, Last of the Breed, and The Haunted Mesa. His memoir, Education of a Wandering Man, was a leading bestseller in 1989. Louis L'Amour died on June 10, 1988.