Image source: The Creative Mama

I always associate Louis L’Amour with my grandfather. I can remember him reading his Westerns, and I think I may have even read a couple way back when. He is one of the great, and most well-known, western authors.

“War Party” is probably one of L’Amour’s best short stories. It has all the right ingredients: a teenage boy on the verge of becoming a man, a resourceful frontier woman, strong and beautiful, and a strong single man who appreciates her. And I love the description of the wide open, beautiful, untamed West.

The prairie and sky had a way of trimming folks down to size, or changing them to giants to whom nothing seemed impossible.

Bud, the young narrator, and his mom are the people who become the giants. They are part of a wagon train heading West, and when Bud’s dad is killed, they keep going. They look at every challenge as something they can overcome. He is willing to take the responsibility of the man in the family. His mom is pretty, but unconventional. She’s not afraid to speak up, to do what she needs to do to protect her family and find “home.” She wouldn’t have fit well back East, but here she blossoms. Some of the men appreciate her, some see her as a threat. She is not one to stay “in her place” and the fact that she speaks Sioux is even more suspicious.

I have to say that I really liked the ending, a happy ending where she doesn’t have to compromise.

“War Party” first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, copyright 1959. I read it in Western Stories edited by Jon Tuska.

5 out of 5 stars

John hosts Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set. Head over there to see what he and others have been reading.

Book source: Library