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The Big Sky follows the travels and trevails of hot headed, misanthrope Boone Caudill a young pup who got abused once too much by his pa. He runs away in search for his mountain man uncle Zeb and for freedom out in the big, untamed American frontier.
He soon meets the fella destined to be his best friend,the amiable and hilariously philosophical Jim Deakins as well as another older and wiser mountain man, Dick Summers.
Guthrie never sugar coats or glamourizes the tough adventures of these wild men. Guthrie does pay reverences to nature itself. The sky is almost a character rather than a backdrop. The scenic descriptions do tend to get long winded, but it's beautiful writing. The dialogue is absolutely superb even though there N word is used with frequency. That's the way it was back then. N word aside, a body fergits to stop jawin' like the fellers in the book when he stops readin'.
Throughout the story readers are reminded that by the 1830 and 40s the wild west was quickly being overrun with pioneers and other adventurers and entrepreuers with the "manifest destiny" mentality. Animals such as the beaver and the buffalo are being hunted down to slim pickins, and the American Indians are being wiped out.
The Big Sky is a classic all by itself, but it's the first of the Dick Summers trilogy. "The Way West" is the Pulizer Prize winning sequel, and "Fair Land, Fair Land" is the final book.