Have you ever been interested in reading Larry McMurtry’s successful Lonesome Dove series, but you have no idea what order these books are in? Then, if this is the case, this guide talking you through this classic series of western books will be perfect for you!
This series is short, but if you read it in the wrong order, you could very easily get confused. Because of this, we have put this guide together to make sure there is no misinformation, and that you are fully informed before you start reading this series.
So, if you want to get started with this series, and want to make sure you approach it the right way, keep reading! It is worth keeping in mind that you can actually enjoy these books in whatever order you want and you will still be able to enjoy the series.
However, there are a few orders that will give you the best experience, so pay attention and you will hopefully find your preferred way to read the series!
About The Lonesome Dove Books
Larry McMurtry is the author of the Lonesome Dove series, and he is an American bookseller, screenwriter, essayist, and for the Lonesome Dove series, a novelist.
He started this classic series of novels back in 1985, and the first book in the series became a Pulitzer Prize winner. All of the books take us back to life in the 19th Century and there are a total of 4 in the series.
The series is focused on the life of protagonist Augustus McCrae, as well as W F Call, however, there are plenty of other side characters you will grow to love like Jake Spoon, Pea Eye Parker, Clara Forsythe Allen, and Joshua Deets.
These characters are all part of the Texas Rangers who worked there in the Republic of Texas up until the early 20th century. The series was successful enough to spawn 5 miniseries which are all based around the events portrayed in the novel.
This classic series is still beloved today, but if you are a fan who read them at the time, but can not seem to remember what order the stories come in, then this guide will give you all the information you need. So if you want to start reading the Lonesome Dove books in order, read on!
The Lonesome Dove Books In Order
While reading the Lonesome Dove books in the correct order will likely give you the best experience, since the stories are all mostly self-contained, you will still have a great time no matter what order you read them in.
This first list will show you the order to read the Lonesome Dove books from when they were published, however, you can also read them in the chronological order we will cover after. No matter what way you read them, you are sure to have a fulfilling experience.
The first story in the Lonesome Dove series is what the series was named after, and it is set in the later years of the 19th century. We follow a cattle drive that is traveling away from Texas and toward Montana.
This drive is a representation of people who are looking for a foolhardy, and daring adventure, but also as a mirror of the American Dream, and looking to carve a life out of the wilderness ahead.
The main characters we are following are Augustus McCrae and W F Call and at this point in their lives, they are former Texas Rangers, as well as friends and partners.
The two have been through a lot together and through the story, we can see the understanding they have for each other’s deepest emotions.
- The narrative told in the first Lonesome Dove book is award-winning for a reason and you will not want to put it down.
- While this story is beloved, not everyone is a fan, and you will be able to work it out through this story if you will be a fan of the rest of the series.
In the second installment of the Lonesome Dove series we are not following McCrae, but his old partner who is Captain Woodrow Call, who instead of working as a Texas Ranger, is instead a bounty hunter.
And he has been tasked in this novel, with tracking down a younger bandit from Mexico.
He is riding this call with other bounty hunters as well, like a city slicker from the east, a relatively witless deputy, on top of the last remaining member of Hat Creek Outfit being Pea Eye Parker who is now living his life married with Lorena, Lorena who was once with Augustus McCrae.
The long chase this group goes on together takes them across the vast stretches of the West all the way to the hellhole of a settlement called Crow Town, and through this, they enter the plains in the Texas frontier.
- Following a different protagonist in the same world makes this a completely different feel than the previous story.
- If you were attached to McCrae, you will miss his relevance in this story.
The third book in the Lonesome Dove series follows Gus and Call when they were just younger Texas Rangers who are trying to learn how to survive in such an unforgiving world.
They are up against the relentless heat, dangerous tornadoes, powerful rivers, as well as the Indians they encounter, however, they also have to deal with the behavior of the soldiers they encounter.
Some of their early expeditions are being led by the most incompetent officers around, all of this while accompanied by the Great Western. They get close to death when encountering the Comanche chief Buffalo Hump as well as Apache Gomez.
They run into the Mexican army as well. This is also the story where we get to see McCrae meet his love.
- Getting to see the lead characters from the previous books earlier in their life is an interesting detail and makes it fun to read after them.
- If you wanted the series to progress forward this might annoy you.
The last of the four Lonesome Dove books is Comanche Moon and this follows McCrae and Call in their middle years they spent as Texas Rangers. In this, we see them have to deal with the growing tensions associated with their adult lives.
For example, Gus is having to deal with his strenuous relationship with Clara, while Call is developing his relationship with Maggie Tilton.
These two men are proud but both act very differently and getting to see them contrasted with each other is part of what makes this story so engaging.
In this story, they enlist with a Ranger troop that is working on chasing down Buffalo Hump from the previous novel. They are also after Kicking Wolf who is a Comanche horse thief, on top of this there is also a Mexican king of bandits.
However, the Ranger also has Kickapoo tracker Famous Shoes assisting them on their chase.
- Getting to see the connection between the previous stories does a great job of developing the characters of McCrae and Call.
- A lot of fans believe that the series ended far too early.
While the previous list goes over how to read the Lonesome Dove books in the order they were published, there is also the option to read them in the order they take place chronologically.
If you want to read the series this way, you would start with Dead Man’s Walk which starts in the early 1840s, and then would move on to Comanche Moon which is between the 1850s and the 1860s.
Then you would move to the first book published Lonesome Dove which is in the later years of the 1870s. Finally, you would move to the last chronological book Streets Of Laredo, and which would take place in the early 1890s.
This is a refreshing way to experience the series, however, we would recommend this for a reread, and not for the first time. These stories were intended to be read in the order they were released, however, the order does not matter too much since they are all self-contained narratives.
Hopefully, this guide has given you all the information you need when it comes to approaching the Lonesome Dove book series. While we have covered the two main ways you can approach reading this set of four stories.
However, as we have said a few times, if you want, you can read this series however you want and you can appreciate them in any order because of the self-contained stories.
Frequently Asked Questions
In What Order Do You Watch The Lonesome Dove TV Series?
There is also the aforementioned miniseries of Lonesome Dove which follows actors Robert Dove as well as Tommy Lee Jones playing the main roles. This series was presented by CBS and it became a classic incredibly quickly.
The order to watch this series is Lonesome Dove (1989) and the Return To Lonesome Dove (1993) which is an original follow-up written with the input of the author.
Then you can move to Streets Of Laredo (1993), Dead Man’s Walk (1996), and finally, Comanche Moon (2008).