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Louis L'Amour was a prolific and hugely popular writer of mostly Western novels and short stories.
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Born in North Dakota in 1908, Louis L'Amour published several short stories, but it was his first Western novel, Hondo (1953), that gained him instant success. While L'Amour later wrote works in different genres, it was his many Westerns that gained him great popularity among readers. L'Amour died on June 10, 1988, in Los Angeles, California. Having written more than 100 books and 400 short stories, he remains one of the most prolific and popular authors in the world.
Louis L'Amour was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore on March 22, 1908, in Jamestown, North Dakota. The youngest of seven children, L'Amour left school at age 15 to work and travel throughout the American West and the world. He held a number of jobs, ranging from lumberjack to elephant handler. He returned home to pursue his dream of becoming a writer and published his first book of poetry in 1939. L'Amour's plans were soon interrupted by World War II, for which he served as an Army lieutenant in Europe.
After an honorable discharge, Louis L'Amour published several short stories, but it was his first Western novel, Hondo (1953), that gained him instant success. Although L'Amour later wrote a non-fiction book about the frontier, and numerous film and television scripts, it was his many Westerns that gained him great popularity among a wide spectrum of readers. His most popular books include 1960's Flint, 1963's Catlow and 1968's Down the Long Hills, along with the Sackett Family series, which was adapted for a television miniseries in 1979.
Having written more than 100 books and 400 short stories, L'Amour remains one of the most prolific and popular authors in the world. There are more than 200 million copies of his books in print and more than 45 of his novels were adapted into Hollywood films. He has also written under the pseudonyms Tex Burns and Jim Mayo. He received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1983, and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
L'Amour married Katherine Elizabeth Adams in 1956; they had a son and a daughter.
Despite being a non-smoker, Louis L'Amour died of lung cancer on June 10, 1988, in Los Angeles, California. His autobiography, Education of a Wandering Man, was published posthumously, as were several other works. His books continue to sell millions of copies each year.
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The Wild West holds a special place in American history—Western films depict it as a place where the rules didn't apply, and where scores were settled with gun slinging and shootouts. The colorful characters who made up the old West were men, women, cowboys, Indians, sheriffs just plain outlaws. Though we've come to have a more nuanced understanding of the good and the bad of the old West, we can still learn from the stories of the people who made it and who wrote about what it was.
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