This is about as close as an L’Amour fan will come to an autobiography. This is not a western novel, though it gives great insight into how he wrote and researched his books. The book starts with a reference to his high school class graduating while he was on a steamer in Indonesia.
L’Amour gives the reader a lengthy discussion of becoming self-educated through books, travel, and experience. I enjoyed the lengthy lists of books L’Amour read during his wandering years in the 30s. I have logged what I read since reading the book in November 1990. It is a worthy discipline. I also started writing a short, generally no more than on page review of what I read since that time.
L’Amour gives a breathtaking discussion of walking out of the Mojave Desert. It reminded me of my time at Fort Irwin, California (about 50 miles north of Barstow in the middle of similar land). L’Amour was a great researcher, and wrote from both personal experience and knowledge. While the book is disorganized, rambling, and repeats itself it is an enjoyable book. When I first read the book I thought they had just published his first draft without editing or rewrites. It is still very good. It should be required reading for any aspiring writer. L’Amour emphasizes the value of education through experience and self-guided reading. He never degrades formal education.