Education of a Wandering Man, a memoir by Louis L’Amour
If you are a fan of Louis L’Amour, read this book. If you are interested in authors as men as well as the tales they tell, read this book. If you draw breath, read this book.
Education of a Wandering Man is exactly what it calls itself, a memoir. It is Louis L’Amour’s remembrances of his travels, experiences, and ultimately, of how he became to be a self-educated man and how very important self-education is. A tight narrative, it is not. The stories wander and jump from topic to topic but this adds to the overall strength of the work rather than detracts from it. It is personal and conversational. Reading the book is like sharing a cup of coffee with the great western author in a roadside shelter while waiting for a storm to pass—intimate, charming, and deeply insightful. L’Amour tells of crossing the Mojave Desert on foot, working at sea, and serving in World War Two to mention only a fraction of his memories.
Most importantly, throughout his life, L’Amour sought books. Each memory is accompanied with a mention of what he was reading at the time and why. At its heart, everything for L’Amour comes back to reading. From pulp fictions to Greek histories to poetry and more, his life was spent seeking knowledge and finding it in the written word. By the end, almost unintentionally, L’Amour makes an irrefutable case for the importance of literature to being a man and, further, to being a wise one. As a wonderful bonus, the book includes a bibliography, for Louis kept a record of what he read throughout the years and shares this list with the reader. This listing of books, over six solid years of reading, is, alone, worth the cost of the book. In many ways, this book embodies, not just L’Amour, but the quest and love of all literary men. It is a definite must read and must have for every reader.
The bibliography L’Amour himself lists within his book.