Biography of Louis L’Amour
In a colourful life that left him with experiences as diverse and as far ranging as a life in the army, professional boxing, where he won 51 of 59 fights, and adventuring where he survived a ship wreck in the West Indies and was left stranded in the Mojave Desert, Mr L’Amour took to a writing career that saw him publish as many as a hundred books with over 270 million being in print worldwide.
Of French-Irish descent, Louis L’Amour was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore in 1908. He spent his childhood in Jamestown North Dakota on a medium-sized farming community. His father, Dr LaMoore, was a veterinarian, but soon took to other jobs as times changed.
L’Amour’s grandfather, Abraham Truman Dearborn, came to live with them while he was still young, and it was he, along with his uncles, who started L’Amour on a steady diet of tales of the Frontier. According to his biography, “He told Louis of the great battles in history and of his own experiences as a soldier in both the civil and Indian wars.”
L’Amour soon started to write and consequently built up a loyal readership from his many frontier and adventure stories written for fiction magazines. He published his first full-length novel, Hondo, in 1953 and went on to publish many more titles. Many of his stories have made it on to the small and big screen and he won numerous awards before his death in 1988.
L’Amour was the first novelist to ever receive the Congressional Gold Medal and in 1984 President Reagan awarded him the Medal of Freedom. Last of the Breed was published in 1986.
Plot of Last of the Breed
Set in the former Soviet Union, Louis L’Amour’s Last of the Breed pits man against nature as Major Joe Mack of the United States Air Force tries to evade capture by soviet soldiers commanded by Colonel Zamatev, and legendary Yakut native tracker, Alekhin.
The ambitious Zamatev starts a clandestine program deep in the wilderness of Siberia with the aim of stealing Western technology by capturing key figures in Western military research. The program starts off well with them capturing one Pennington, an English chemist, who, the soviets believe, has knowledge of chemical agents currently under research by the British government.
Joe Mack is next on their list, and it’s for his knowledge and expertise in test airplanes. They kidnap him, hoping to extract the information they believe he holds, but they do not reckon on just what Joe Mack is. On the exterior he may be a gentleman and an officer of the United States’ air force, but Joe Mack is also an Indian. Of Sioux decent, he is one of a handful of native Indians who still have knowledge of the great outdoors. It’s this knowledge he hopes will help him survive in the harsh terrain of Siberia, if only he can escape.
He escapes with Pennington’s help and immediately sets off into the forests and mountains, snow all about him. He expertly evades his enemies while, incredibly, living off the land – hunting for food, and making clothes and shoes (moccasins) from the hides of his kills. He is deathly cold most nights and exhausted most days.
But his nemesis, a Yakut named Alekhin, is also hot on his trail. He, like Joe Mack, is a native of the wilds, and his people, the Yakuts, are to the Soviet Union what the native Indians are to the United States so that in the end it will be wild man against wild man, and each with a powerful pedigree. It will lead inevitably only to the final showdown of Indian versus Soviet.
Other Books by Louis L’Amour
Louis L’Amour is known for his dedication to research and he certainly uses this in a book like Last of the Breed where information about survival in the great outdoors is aplenty. He has written many other books including The Sackett series of novels, Chancy, The Quick and the Dead and Catlow.