Book Report: Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour (1987)

Book coverAfter reading Songs of Three, the second Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies book, I considered jumping into the next, but instead, I picked up this Louis L’Amour title that I bought in 2022 after reading A Trail of Memories: The Quotations of Louis L’Amour.

This book is not a Western; instead, it is an 80s-style thriller, sort of. It still has some Western tropes and overtones as befits the particular story.

Major Joe Makatozi is an Air Force pilot testing an experimental aircraft in Alaska when he his forced down in the Soviet Union and is taken prisoner to a camp in Siberia where he will be interrogated about American aircraft. However, Joe Mack is a full-blooded Sioux who grew up in the wilds of Idaho, so when he makes a plan to escape the camp, he has a better-than-usual chance. So he does make a break for it and lives off of the land with a plan to walk across Siberia to the Bering Strait and to cross it somehow as his ancestors did. He uses all the skills he learned in the wild to hunt, trap, and skin animals using mostly bow and arrow. He spends some time near a village of outcasts, falling for the de facto leader, a lovely woman whose father is a disfavored professor, but another of the outcasts betrays them, so he must flee without her to continue his journey alone.

The book cuts from his perspective (all third person perspective) to several others, including the colonel in charge of the camp and the program to kidnap and interrogate Westerners of note; the Yakut (native Siberian) tracker on Joe Mack’s trail; the colonel’s mistress, a woman on her way up in the party; a furrier who bought furs from the village that came to the attention of the colonel’s mistress because Joe Mack’s furs were better than the others; the woman from the village who flees with her father ahead of the Soviet raid; even the betrayer gets a couple of pages for his perspective. I mean, what’s a lengthy thriller without the jump cuts?

At any rate, it does run on a little long, with some of the characters’ introspection repeated (not word for word, but the same sentiments are reiterated several times). And the ending comes pretty abruptly; about page 300 or 310 of 364, I wondered how it would all get wrapped up, and to be honest, a bit quickly and ambiguously. Perhaps L’Amour thought about continuing it in another book but wrapped it up here instead. But although an enjoyable read, a little unsatisfying in the end.

Still, after reading it, I did pick up 11 other L’Amour books. So make of that what you will. An endorsement in action if not in a twee blog post.

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