One practically experiences the harsh, dusty realities of a long-distance harrowing cattle drive first-hand in this sprawling 1,000 page epic story set in pre-Civil War Texas. Unlike many contemporary Hollywood Westerns, where the good guy always wins the girl and everything is tied up in a neat bow, McMurtry paints a much more realistic picture of the "old West" where not everything goes as planned, the weather doesn't always cooperate, and good guys don't always finish first.
This epic tale is loaded with vivid characters -- both good and bad -- and very believable action. Sometime almost too believable. Lonesome Dove is widely considered to be stronger than the other three books in the series (two prequels and one sequel), all of which were written afterward. Although there are several scenes where McMurtry goes for the gratuitous, gory violence you'll no doubt find this book an engrossing, terrifying, and utterly heartbreaking read.