I am a bit late to the discussion , I’m afraid having just found the website. All the books mentioned are worthy of a place in the top ten, Lonesome Dove and True Grit being my top reads. For me, True Grit, probably shades it as being a perfect piece of storytelling, not one word is wasted or used as filler. I read most of Louis Lamour’s books as a teenager nearly 50 years ago along with other popular western writers of the 50’s 60’s and a bit of the 70’s. To be honest I thought they were all much of a muchness and full of fast draw nonsense( I always thought, even as a child, if you are going to a gunfight, make sure the gun is in your hand). I enjoyed a number of the Sackett series, to my mind the Daybreakers was far and away the best of them and could easily grace anybodies top ten. A close second would be To Tame a Land. I read the last Sackett book, Lonely on the Mountain quite recently and thought it was poor and could have done with a good edit and proper ending. I also recently reread Shane and for me it did not stand the test of time. Monte Walsh is still high in my list of all time greats, Shane alas has fallen outwith the top ten. My purpose in posting is to offer up an alternative top ten(ish) best western historical stories. I hope some of you find something interesting on the list.
OUTLAW by Warren Kiefer I think this is the only western the author has written. Great story set at the end of the 19th century in the southwest and Mexico. Epic storytelling.
TRAVELS OF JAIME MCPHEETERS by Robert Lewis Taylor A forgotten classic in my mind. This author has written a couple of other novels in a western setting. Both are very good reads.
WILD TIMES by Brian Garfield I suppose could be described as a fictional account of the Buffalo Bill story. A great read.
I TOM HORN by Will Henry Far and away the best fictional account of the wests most enigmatic character. Larry Ball also wrote a fantastic biography of Horn, a recommended read.
THE JOURNEY OF THE DEAD by Loren D Estelman A kind of mystical off kilter retelling of the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid story, mostly dealing with Garrett, it has an epic scope and I really enjoyed it, Estelman is a very good storyteller.
SEASON OF THE YELLOW LEAF by Douglas C Jones Any of Jones novels could fit in here, they are ALL great reads. In my mind he was one of the most underrated writers in American fiction.
IN THE ROGUE BLOOD by James Carlos Blake Another very underrated writer. If you liked Blood Meridian, you will like this. Personally I think it’s better, only my opinion. Blake has written a number of western set novels all of them are very good.
THE EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE by Forrest Carter Although the author has in recent times lost a lot of fans, this book is a great read, will make you laugh out loud and maybe get a bit misty eyed. I hope its inclusion is not to contraversial.
THE KERNEY TRILOGY by Michael McGarrity A seies of 3 books, Backlands, Hard Country and The Last Ranch, that takes the reader through a number of generations of the Kearney family , starting in the mid 1800’s New Mexico and on through to the 1970s. Good solid storytelling.