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Brave Cowboy Paperback – Apr 1 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (April 1 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380714590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380714599
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #504,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
When Jack Burns encounters a barbed-wire fence as he comes across the West Mesa (Albuquerque)on horseback he scans in both directions for a gate before he clips the wire to ride through. He wouldn't have cut it if it wasn't in his way, or if there'd been a gate nearby. Thus begins the book with a scene that tells much about the main character.
Burns is a man who doesn't merely cling to ideals of loyalty, privacy and individual freedom. His internal machinery accepts no alternative at any level. Jack Burns is a man who won't cut a fence unless it stands in the way of where he wants to go. He recognizes the existence of the creeping encroachments and compromises to his choices and ignores them. The modern acquiescence by the rest of society is foreign to him.
Burns descends the mesa into Albuquerque, encounters modern city life and is battered by it without 'losing' in the usual sense of the word, and leaves on the run from the legal instruments intended to keep us all on the straight and narrow. The end is inevitable.
Readers who know Albuquerque will enjoy the ride across the 'Volcans', the places in the Rio Grande Valley still recognizable despite the years since Abbey wrote the book, the harrowing climb up the Sandias pursued by the military and law enforcement community. Those who don't know Albuquerque or New Mexico will appreciate the type of individual Burns portrays: a man born too late, unable to compromise.
I haven't seen the movie mentioned by other reviewers. I also didn't see the shortcomings of the book mentioned by several. I saw only a writer who created a character much as Abbey saw himself, as many people today see themselves, and a plot that carried those traits through to the end. No one, I imagine Abbey would say, can dodge the steamroller.
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By bixodoido on April 17 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a novel about a man born into the wrong era. Jack Burns is a cowboy through and through--unaccustomed to having his freedom restricted and driven by a strong sense of loyalty and honor. The problem is he lives in post World War II America, and his old-fashioned values and desire to roam the country freely often clash with the modern society in which he lives. This causes many problems for Burns, some simple, some complicated: he has a hard time getting his horse to cross the highway, people don't respect him, he doesn't register for the draft (which was compulsory then). He is put in jail trying to help a friend, and it is here that the conflict of old and new really begins to unfold.

Without revealing too much of the plot, Burns tries to beat modern society with his old-fashioned ways. The final section of the book deals with the physical conflict between old and new, between horse and horsepower, and it is clear that Jack Burns simply does not belong in the era into which he was born. This novel details the struggle for disappearing values, the desperate attempt to hold on to the past (and the consequences this sometimes brings). Edward Abbey is an excellent writer, and his prose is vivid and descriptive. The Brave Cowboy is a classic work of American Western fiction.
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Format: Paperback
Edward Abbey's first-best book is, of course, "Desert Solitaire," that fictionalized non-fiction work that so eloquently celebrates the pristine Southwest wilderness and mourns its destruction at the hands of industry and politics.

"The Brave Cowboy" is known to many through its filmization with Kirk Douglas. Despite the inane title, "Lonely Are the Brave," it is an excellent movie. But the book is even more excellent.

If you see this work purely as social commentary -- the individual at odds with society -- you miss the point. That aspect of the book, while it is an impassioned message from one of this country's best nature writers, is almost too obvious to deserve mention. The message, and the beautifully detailed setting of Western plains and mountains, are the background.

The foreground is a character study of Jack Burns, a man in perpetual rebellion against authority and incapable of commitment to anything outside of himself. He is generous and caring, but he allows no one to penetrate his stubborn exterior. He refuses to be vulnerable to love or to any of the normal compromises that permit even the most hardened of us individualists to survive in the real world.

He is inevitably doomed by his own intransigence, and that is what makes the story more than just "sad": it is a genuine tragedy. And like all successful tragedies, it is uplifting. The book's triumph is that, even while we know the outcome, we envy Jack Burns.

This book is a youthful work. You won't find a Hemingway or a Fitzgerald in the writing style, or even a Jack London. It is a popular book, more like a best-seller than "literature." Nevertheless, the excellence of its story raises it above the main. It is simply a great, and greatly affecting, read.
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By A Customer on Oct. 23 2001
Format: Paperback
Edward Abbey's first published novel is a modern-day western set in New Mexico. Its hero, Jack Burns, is a man unable to come to terms with an increasingly civilized west, who becomes a fugitive from the law after he attempts to help his friend break out of jail. Hunted by the authorities, he complicates his escape by refusing to leave his skittish horse behind. Despite the awful title, it is a well-written, entertaining novel that explores the tension between personal freedom and modern civilization against a backdrop of stark natural beauty. Made into an even better film under the title Lonely Are the Brave. Coincidentally, I read this book after finishing Rand Johnson's excellent new novel "Arcadia Falls", which tho set in the suburban east, is thematically very similar.
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