Item description for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: And A Man Called Horse, The Hanging Tree, Lost Sister by Dorothy M. Johnson...
The Western Writer's of America ranked these four stories as the best short stories of the 20th century, but they have never been collected in one book until now. This edition is destined to earn a place in every western library!
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: And A Man Called Horse, The Hanging Tree, Lost Sister?
is these all of the short stories Mar 14, 2006
From the time I was is Junior High the series of Short Stories in the book "A Man Called Horse" was among my favorite things to read and it remains so today. One thing I would take from the site is that it does not directly reference which short stories are included. About the author I think that her character development fits more with the style of a Jack London than others who are referenced. To my mind she is among the top three of the story tellers in American Literature.
DESERVED RECOGNITION: Jan 16, 2006
This reprint of several of the great stories of Dorothy Johnston is an invaluable reminder of a great and unlikely talent in the Western genre. I have to confess I'd no idea that two of the classic Western movies, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and A Man Called Horse, were not only based on source material by the same author but a woman to boot. Reading the stories together here it becomes obvious that, though seemingly dissimilar, the tales are linked--as is in particular--by the theme of people trying to sculpt personal characters that they can be proud of, or at least live with. The man called Horse, for instance, has come West, despite being of a good family in New England, because he wanted to "live among his equals--people who were no better than he and no worse either." But when he is captured by the Crow Indians he is made a slave, little better than a horse. However, when he finds himself fighting with dogs for a chunk of meat he resolves that while he may be no better than a horse he is above the dogs, and so he begins to establish the boundaries of an acceptable persona and by the end of the story becomes a decent enough man that he makes a surprising self-sacrifice. Similarly, the tale of Ransome Foster, in Liberty Valance, resolves to a simple determination: "When I die, sometime today, he thought, they won't say I'm a coward." Indeed, the great strength of Ms Johnson as a story-teller, something lost in the epic film versions, is that she stripped away all clutter to get to the essentials of these characters.
As it turns out, Ms Johnson was quite a character in her own right--Dorothy M. Johnson: Taleteller was everyman's interpreter and guide to Montana and the West (JEFF HERMAN, The Missoulian)--and it's a wonderful thing to see her get the recognition she deserves.
Genius Rediscovered in New Publication Aug 5, 2005
`The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' is a republication of some of the best stories of Dorothy Johnson, America's most unrecognized genius of short fiction. Two of these four stories are taken from `Indian Country' (later published as `Man Called Horse'), a brilliant collection of Western tales that deserves to be back in print. Three of them were made into successful movies. All four of these tales show the mark of genius that was typical of Johnson's work. Time Magazine compared Dorothy Johnson's work to Bret Harte and Mark Twain, and this was no hyperbole. As works of literature, her Western short stories are nearly without peer, and they are often better than many histories in accurately portraying the detail and nuance of Native, frontier, and Mountain Man cultures. The first of the four stories in this volume, `A Man Called Horse', is a tale of a young man raised in a wealthy Eastern family who went West, was captured by Crow Indians, and spent several years living among them. It details the ways in which he changed to adapt and survive, and the lessons that he learned from the experience. This theme of whites living with Indians and the effect the dramatic change of culture could have was one of Johnson's favorites, and one she captured better in her writing than anyone else. This story was made into a movie in 1970, starring Richard Harris. In `The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance', we see another of Johnson's recurring themes - the less than noble truth that often was concealed by the heroic legends that grew out of the West. It is the story of a young greenhorn who rose to fame and fortune on the back of a legend that was a lie. This story was made into the classic 1962 movie, the last by the great director John Ford, and starred John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. `Lost Sister' returns to the theme of whites living among the Indians, but this time we see it from the perspective of a family being reunited with a sister who had lived as a native for thirty years after being captured as a child. Nowhere is the clash of cultures better shown than in this story of the painful attempt to re-integrate this family member who had gone completely native over the years, and who only desired to return to the life and place she knew as home. The final story in this collection, `The Hanging Tree', is actually a novella. It is an expertly told tale of the tangled lives and fates of three people in a rough gold mining camp. It explores how those who went west often were cut completely loose from their past, freely re-invented themselves, and lived lives where the personal myths or nightmares that they created for themselves often had more power than reality. This story was made into the 1959 movie starring Gary Cooper (in his final role), Karl Malden, and a young George C. Scott. Anyone with an interest in the American West should be thrilled by this collection and left hungry and searching for more of the brilliant writings of Dorothy Johnson. I give it my highest recommendation.