Biography - VI

Theodore Roosevelt Rough
Rider Award presented to
Louis L'Amour May 26, 1972

In addition to pleasing millions of fans, Louis won the Western Writers of America's Golden Spur Award for "Down the Long Hills", North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, his novels "Hondo" and "Flint" are voted places in the 25 best Western Novels of all time. Five years after out selling John Steinbeck's total of 41,300,000 copies (a Bantam record) Louis L'Amour sold his one hundred millionth book and had won the Western Writer's of America's Golden Saddleman Award. In 1983 U.S. Congress voted him the National Gold Medal, and a year later the Medal of Freedom. Louis' books have been translated into over fifteen foreign languages and are sold in English in almost a dozen countries.

The Strater Hotel, since 1887
Durango, Colorado

Louis loved to collect books and finally he had both the space and the money to do so. His private library grew from some 3,000 to nearly 10,000 books and half again as many journals and periodicals.True to his athletic past he would spend an hour or two every day lifting weights, skipping rope and punching a heavy bag, first in a paved area of his small back yard in Hollywood, later, in the garage that he had converted into a gymnasium. Starting in 1966 he would take his family to spend the summer in Durango, CO, a place he had visited briefly with a mining buddy in the in the late 1920s. For over ten years they spent the month of August at the Strater Hotel, Louis dividing his time between writing in a corner room over the Diamond Belle Saloon and hiking in the La Plata or San Juan Mountains. In later years he participated in the Presidential Committee on Space, a Ute/Commanche peace treaty, and was on the National Board of the Library of Congress' Center for the Book.

The summer of 1987 Louis caught pneumonia. In a few weeks he threw it off and was seemingly healthy until late fall, when he caught it again. The first round of tests showed nothing but ultimately a needle biopsy caught malignant cancer cells. Going back through the x-rays, doctors discovered a thin veil of cancerous material running throughout his lungs. Because the cancer was not localized in any one spot, surgery was not possible. He began his long postponed memoir, Education of a Wandering Man. As the disease progressed Louis moved his work from his office to a desk in an upstairs bedroom and ultimately into the master bedroom. He was editing the book the afternoon that he died. A few days before he passed away Louis was notified that sales of his books had topped two hundred million.

Since his death in June of 1988 Bantam Books has continued to release the work of Louis L'Amour. Smoke from this Altar, his 1939 book of poetry, and a revised version of Yondering, were released in the same year. Since then there have been re-releases of the four Hopalong Cassidy novels, and many books of his short stories, some containing material never before published. In the years since his death in 1988 over one hundred and twenty million copies of his books have been sold. None of Louis L’Amour’s Bantam titles have ever been out of print.

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