L'Amour, Louis: Jubal Sackett
(researched by Thames Thuston)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Louis L'Amour. Jubal Sackett. New York: Bantam Books, June 1985. Copyright: Louis L'Amour Enterprises, Inc. Parallel First Edition: In Canada: Jubal Sackett. Toronto: Bantam Books, June 1985.pp.375
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American Edition published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
194 leaves, pp.[10]1-375[3]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
No editor or introduction. Includes publisher advertisement for other Bantam Books by Louis L'Amour. Total 18 Sackett series titles and 72 other titles by L'Amour. Dedication to Hazel and Charlie Daniels.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
Black and white plates on two facing pages before page 1. Drawings of one large map and two smaller, more specific maps illustrated by Alan McKnight.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Wide margins allow for good readability. Horizontal lines at top and bottom of page also add to clarity of text. Very little wear on the pages. Chapters are numbered and have no titles. Typography is serif. 97R. Book size: 228 mm. by 148 mm.; Size of text: 166 mm. by 110 mm.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Book on wove paper in very good condition. Texture fairly smooth with little discoloration. Illustration on wove paper also. Book has little staining and no tearing.
11 Description of binding(s)
Binding in linen-texture cloth, not embossed. Yellowish hue. Dust jacket included. Transcription of spine: LOUIS L'AMOUR | JUBAL SACKETT | Bantam
12 Transcription of title page
Title page recto transcription: LOUIS L'AMOUR | JUBAL | SACKETT | [Bantam Books logo] | BANTAM BOOKS | TORONTO-NEW YORK-LONDON-SYDNEY-AUCKLAND
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
No information is available at this time on the manuscript holdings.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Dust jacket has description of previous books by L'Amour on the Sackett family, and then includes brief plot summary. Back flap also mentions the cover mural on dust jacket by Colin Backhouse and author's photo on back of dust jacket by Leigh A. Wiener.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Bantam published another edition in London, 1986. The only apparent difference between editions is a greater page length for the British edition. Bantam also published a deluxe edition under the "Louis L'Amour Collection," but with the same physical features.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
The first printing of this book yielded 300,000 copies. A fifth printing yielded 5,000 and a seventh printing yeilded 10,000. No information was found regarding impressions.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Editions by other publishers: Corgi, London. 1987. G.K. Hall, Boston. 1986. (large print edition)
6 Last date in print?
This book is still in print now (year 2000), as a Bantam paperback.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
N/A
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
N/A
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
According to the April 19, 1985 Publishers Weekly magazine, Bantam planned a major ad promo. However, upon extensive reasearch in Publisher's Weekly dating from April through September 1985, no specific ads could be found.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Also according to the April 19, 1985 Publisher's Weekly magazine, Bantam planned an author's tour to coincide with the publication of this book.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
No information regarding performances in other media. However, several of L'Amour's more popular Sackett novels are currently available as "Books on Tape."
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
The translations of this book are extensive: Swedish: "Vinden viskar itchakomi" Hoganas: Bra Bok, 1986. Swedish: "Nikawana, mysteriernas herre" Malmo: Winther, 1990. Danish: "Ni'kwana, mysterniernes mester" Kobenhavn: Winther, 1990. Hebrew: "G'ubal Saket" Tel Aviv: Shalgi, 1988. Chinese: "Ts'ao mang feng yun" T'ai-pei shih: Huang kuan ch'u pan she, 1985. Chinese: "Tsao mung fung yuen" T'ai-pei shih: Huang kuan chu pan she, 1985. Czech: "Jubal Sackett" Praha: Talpress, 1993. Slovene: "Jubal Sackett" Ljubljana: Presernova druzba, 1990. Finnish: "Jubal Sackett" Helsinki: Winther, 1990.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Jubal Sackett is L'Amour's eighteenth and final novel about the Sackett family. The other titles are: Ride the River (1960) The Daybreakers (1961) Sackett (1961) Lando (1962) Mojave Crossing (1964) The Sackett Brand (1965) Mustang Man (1966) The Sky-Liners (1967) The Lonely Men (1969) Galloway (1970) Treasure Mountain (1972) Ride the Dark Trail (1972) Sackett's Land (1974) The Man from the Broken Hills (1975) To the Far Blue Mountains (1976) The Warrior's Path (1980) Lonely on the Mountain (1981)
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
**Please see Erica Knight's entry on The Lonesome Gods for an overview biographical sketch Louis L'Amour spent many years of his youth in a variety of jobs and settings that gave him first-hand experience for his western novels. Among other things, he was a lumberjack, a miner, and a trapper, all which contributed to his store of western knowledge and also to the story of Jubal Sackett. L'Amour had an interview with People Magazine in 1984, a year before Jubal Sackett was published. He was living outside of Los Angeles and his daily routine involved waking up between 5 and 6:30 in the morning, reading his newspaper, typing all morning, working out in the afternoon, and spending most evenings reading at home. And so in this setting he wrote the 18th Sackett series novel that would also be his last. There had been a Sackett TV miniseries in 1979, but L'Amour's involvement in tv and movie production had slowed since then. In 1984, L'Amour came out with a book unique from many of his others. It is titled The Walking Drum, and takes place in 12th century Europe. L'Amour was quoted as calling this novel a changing point in his writing that opened an entirely new field for him. He considered this book to be his chance to prove his own abilities outside of the western genre. Still, one year later Jubal Sackett was published, reassuring his public that even though he may be embarking on new territory, he would not leave behind his beloved western family, the Sacketts. L'Amour was regularly praised much more for his storytelling abilities than his critical accomplishments. With Jubal Sackett, he once again continued this tradition, and although Jubal Sackett was not often praised critically, it was a huge seller. And his tradition of producing around 2 novels a year was not nearly exhausted. At his death in 1988, he still had outlines for more than 50 novels. Sources used include: Gale LIterary Databases--Contemporary Authors Dictionary of Literary Biography People Weekly, July 23, 1984
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"You among the recalcitrant readers for whom Louis L'Amour still hankers, read on. If you're looking for a novel that packs a wallop and you're not too persnickety about style...then his latest, 'Jubal Sackett,' may be the book for you this summer" (Erdrich). This quote from the 'New York Times Book Review' indicates the type of reception L'Amour found from most reviewers when 'Jubal Sackett' debuted in 1985. I was surprised at the general uniformity among reviewers from all types of publications. They were quick to describe this novel as an enjoyable read, but also quick to point to the author's lack of serious literary merit. As a critic from the 'Wall Street Journal' states, "The book is rarely dull or melodramatic, and it seems clear that whatever Mr. L'Amour's flaws as a sylist, he is a born storyteller" (Simels). Once again, a reviewer from 'Booklist' follows with similar reception: "L'Amour's ability to spin a good yarn compensates for his lack of stylistic finesse, thus helping to explain his phenomenal success as a genre writer. A rousing adventure tale sure to be in high demand." Another common theme amoung these reviews was a general assumption that despite its flaws, the book would be a success. In 'Publishers Weekly' a critic wrote, "As usual L'Amour's hero is filled with dreams, honor and pithy sayings, some of them embarrassingly trite. If he had given us a distillation of the history and natural beauty of the West we would have a small gem. As it is, L'Amour's legions of fans--'The Lonesome Gods' and 'The Walking Drum' have more than 450,000 copies in print--will devour this book in sufficient quantity to discourage any formula tinkering." The reviewers uniformly praise the thrilling fight scenes, bravery and historical information embedded in 'Jubal Sackett.' At the same time, they mention the unrealistic romance between the protagonist and an Indian princess and the often one-dimensional Indian characters. Overall, the reviews were warm and positive about the novel's readability and fun, but also critical of L'Amour's lacking stylistic accomplishments. Works Cited "Jubal Sackett" Booklist 81 (1 May 1985): 1217 "Jubal Sackett" Publishers Weekly 227 (19 April 1985): 72 Erdrich, Louise. "Jubal Sackett." The New York Times Book Review (2 June 1985): 7, 22-23 Simels, Steven. "Pulp for the Ages." The Wall Street Journal (5 July 1985): 5
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"You among the recalcitrant readers for whom Louis L'Amour still hankers, read on. If you're looking for a novel that packs a wallop and you're not too persnickety about style...then his latest, 'Jubal Sackett,' may be the book for you this summer" (Erdrich). This quote from the 'New York Times Book Review' indicates the type of reception L'Amour found from most reviewers when 'Jubal Sackett' debuted in 1985. I was surprised at the general uniformity among reviewers from all types of publications. They were quick to describe this novel as an enjoyable read, but also quick to point to the author's lack of serious literary merit. As a critic from the 'Wall Street Journal' states, "The book is rarely dull or melodramatic, and it seems clear that whatever Mr. L'Amour's flaws as a sylist, he is a born storyteller" (Simels). Once again, a reviewer from 'Booklist' follows with similar reception: "L'Amour's ability to spin a good yarn compensates for his lack of stylistic finesse, thus helping to explain his phenomenal success as a genre writer. A rousing adventure tale sure to be in high demand." Another common theme amoung these reviews was a general assumption that despite its flaws, the book would be a success. In 'Publishers Weekly' a critic wrote, "As usual L'Amour's hero is filled with dreams, honor and pithy sayings, some of them embarrassingly trite. If he had given us a distillation of the history and natural beauty of the West we would have a small gem. As it is, L'Amour's legions of fans--'The Lonesome Gods' and 'The Walking Drum' have more than 450,000 copies in print--will devour this book in sufficient quantity to discourage any formula tinkering." The reviewers uniformly praise the thrilling fight scenes, bravery and historical information embedded in 'Jubal Sackett.' At the same time, they mention the unrealistic romance between the protagonist and an Indian princess and the often one-dimensional Indian characters. Overall, the reviews were warm and positive about the novel's readability and fun, but also critical of L'Amour's lacking stylistic accomplishments. Works Cited "Jubal Sackett" Booklist 81 (1 May 1985): 1217 "Jubal Sackett" Publishers Weekly 227 (19 April 1985): 72 Erdrich, Louise. "Jubal Sackett." The New York Times Book Review (2 June 1985): 7, 22-23 Simels, Steven. "Pulp for the Ages." The Wall Street Journal (5 July 1985): 5
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Many novels from the yearly bestseller lists indicate one particular similarity-the power of name recognition. Louis L'Amour's Jubal Sackett clearly falls into this category, as the novel was published late in the extensive, successful career of its author. In fact, Jubal Sackett reveals much concerning the reasons behind the success of popular, long-standing authors. Often times, these novels are not literary masterpieces but are still successful for a number of other reasons. Although this book is unique from the novels of some other popular "name recognition" authors, many considerations for the success of the novel are the same. Thus, it is useful to compare L'Amour and this particular book with authors such as Tom Clancy, Agatha Christie, and John Grisham. Ultimately, Jubal Sackett and several other novels by these authors demonstrate that bestsellers may succeed through such factors as accessibility and name recognition rather than literary complexity or originality. One of the most obvious aspects of L'Amour's literature, including Jubal Sackett, is its lack of stylistic sophistication. His novels are not intended to be difficult for reading or understanding. In fact, his literary style propels the pace of reading to move more quickly than many other books. L'Amour has always insisted that he is merely a storyteller, and this description fits well the familiar stylistic manner of narration in Jubal Sackett. He does not recognize himself to be a master in the art of creating literary masterpieces, but a master at capturing an audience and relating a good, understandable story. As a writer in one article concerning L'Amour concisely states, "Perhaps L'Amour should be allowed the last word on the importance of literary quality in the work of a popular writer" (DLB Yearbook). Not only is the reading normally simplistic, but the editing is also sometimes lacking. For instance, L'Amour contradicts himself in Jubal Sackett by first stating that his character Keokotah has never seen a gun but then a few pages later claiming that he has seen Spanish men with guns. However, despite this obvious lack of stylistic superiority and superb editing, L'Amour's readers are satisfied and his book is a bestseller. The critics are unafraid to recognize these lacking qualities in Jubal Sackett. In fact, the reviews that I discovered almost uniformly mention the lower quality of style and language of this novel when compared with other more critically acclaimed novels. But at the same time the critics are forgiving and maintain that despite its shortcomings, Jubal Sackett will be a success. As one typical critic wrote, "This is an absorbing story filled with adventure, romance, a hint of occult, and information about Indian tribes and life in the mountains in the 17th century. Although the plot is predictable, the story will please L'Amour fans who have been following the lives of the Sackett clan"(Library Journal). Another critic wrote, "If you're looking for a novel that packs a wallop and you're not too persnickety about style, if you can't abide adulterers or pantywaists-both abhorred by Louis L'Amour-then his latest, 'Jubal Sackett,' may be the book for you this summer" (New York Times Book Review). Both of these quotes indicate the pervasive attitude among critics concerning Jubal Sackett. They all pointed to his inferior quality of literature but understood the success that would nonetheless follow. Some of the reasons for this success will be mentioned later, but one very important reason is the accessibility of the novel. The lack of literary complexity in this novel makes it a much more accessible book to mass audiences. In order to do well, bestsellers must often accomplish this accessibility in some shape or form. L'Amour accomplishes accessibility several ways, but one of the most prominent methods is this simplistic style of writing. Another manner through which L'Amour achieves accessibility is his adherence to a particular formula that repeats itself in most of his novels. The typical L'Amour novel was established earlier in his career with such paramount successes as Hondo, and he has chosen to not veer from the formula in most instances. Jubal Sackett demonstrates that once popular audiences enjoy a particular formula or subject narrative, an author does not necessarily have to change that formula. This novel was the last in a long line of Sackett novels, and does not diverge from the typical L'Amour style or the typical Sackett story line. Not only does Jubal Sackett adhere to L'Amour's tested formula of an adventure novel, but it is also a member of the larger "western" genre. Fitting into that category creates a small but loyal and immediate audience of readers who follow the western genre. The blurbs describing the book seem to highlight its stereotypical western genre aspects, such as good and bad guys, romance and adventure. Thus, L'Amour is able to attract those who are eager to read any novel fitting that broad description. Yet within this realm, L'Amour is still able to distinguish his novel enough that it is not boringly similar to other books of the western adventure genre. He discovers a nice medium of belonging to the American western genre but also maintaining originality. Even with his individual flair, the advantages of belonging to a genre are clear. Not only does the author have a proven novel formula, but he also has the advantage of belonging to a particular genre. Both of the above points also emphasize the previous assertion that Jubal Sackett is a very accessible book. Readers are comfortable with L'Amour because they either know the genre or they know the L'Amour formula. Even people with little reading history do not have to look far to find a movie or a television series based on one of L'Amour's novels. In the years 1953 to 1970, thirty movies were made based on his novels, including the wildly successful "Hondo" starring John Wayne. As one writer states, "Critics say that L'Amour took the distinctively American genre of the Western novel to an audience unprecedented in size. Vivid in detail, his works drew on a wealth of personal experience and indefatigable research" (CLC Yearbook). Clearly the accessibility of the novel was only heightened by the L'Amour formula and the American western genre. L'Amour is not the only author to employ this method of attaining accessibility. Many other best-selling authors found a genre and a particular formula through which they could churn out successful stories. Writers like Tom Clancy, Danielle Steel, and Agatha Christie found success in similar repetition. Whether it is a focus on government thrillers, Hollywood lives, or murder mysteries, all of these authors have tapped into the resources which allow success within an applied formula. Perhaps L'Amour has aligned more clearly to one single type of story line, but his success is undeniable despite the repetition. All of these authors, plus many more, found that they were able to market a formula and bank on a base of readers that were guaranteed to devour the novel in mass quantities, despite its possible lack of literary merit. Jubal Sackett simply further asserts this idea and demonstrates that bestsellers do not necessarily have to be abounding in originality to attain successful status. Louis L'Amour himself as the author adds an entirely new dimension to the novel and its success. In the marketing of this novel, the author's name is more prominently focused upon than the title of the book. Even on the cover art, his name is highlighted in bolder colors and is centered at the most visible place on the page. One article alludes to the success of the L'Amour name: "Bantam publishes about three L'Amour novels a year. Ever-present in airport bookstores and at paperback counters, the books appeal to a wide range of readers" (CLC Yearbook). Because his novels are in airports and every other imaginable place where paperbacks are sold, the L'Amour name is bankable and is often more reliable than a title. L'Amour already possesses an established fan base, as clearly works hand in hand with his unaltered formula for successful novels. This sheer focus on the author's name over the book title is used in marketing techniques over and over. Looking at any bookshelf, one first perceives the large "John Grisham" and "Tom Clancy" names that overshadow any titles. Publishers know that if a reader has read one book by an author and enjoyed it, then that reader will quite possibly pick another book by the same author with little knowledge of the actual content of the book. Therefore, as is the case in many other bestsellers, the marketing of Jubal Sackett was much more focused on the author himself rather than the title of the new book. Another aspect of Jubal Sackett that must be accounted for is the simple fact that it belongs to a long-established series. In fact, this novel is the last book in a series of 18 Sackett novels (although at the time it was not assumed to be the last Sackett novel). The recognition of the name Sackett in the title alludes to other titles with the same last name, and gives those readers who have read any other Sackett family novel an immediate background to this novel. This knowledge is attractive to many readers and can demonstrate that bestsellers do sometimes come out of an established series. In almost every genre, authors exploit the series novel that draws the same audience over and over again. Everyone from Nancy Drew to Dirk Pitt has pulled readers into their continuous adventures and created massive, reliable reading audiences. Another author with that advantage is Agatha Christie. Most of her murder novels involve the same detective, and she employs the audience's previous knowledge of the detective to gain further incentive and more accessibility. Another example is Tom Clancy, who achieves the same feat through reasserting his character Jack Ryan. He grants his audience increasing enticement to continue purchasing his books through banking on their long-established connection with this one character. Even though L'Amour focuses on a family instead of a particular character, he still achieves the same familiar fan base. Therefore, Jubal Sackett is advantageous not only in the recognition of its author, but also in the recognition of the characters and their previous literary history. L'Amour as a person also holds to several attributes that certainly aid his popularity and teach us more about bestsellers. L'Amour did not publish his first western novel until his 40s, and even at that time he published under the pseudonym Tex Burns. This later beginning made L'Amour's ascent into the literary world even more difficult. But from this vast period of not writing western novels, L'Amour obtained a plethora of knowledge based on the amazingly diverse and interesting jobs he held. He was at one time everything from a circus member to a ranch hand. He traveled for years and years, allowing himself experiences and education that most only dream of. All of these experiences directly contributed to his own writing skills. At one time or another, he was a lumberjack, a miner, a boxer, a fruit picker, a flume builder, a longshoreman and a soldier in World War I (to name a few!). The exposure he received was invaluable. Specifically, this knowledge combined with his continuous personal research contributed to the vast amounts of historical information in many of his books, including Jubal Sackett. In most of his novels, L'Amour incorporates many historically correct situations that teach the reader while also entertaining the reader. He speaks of the money, the customs, and the lifestyles of the early settlers and Indians in detail and with accuracy. This background not only contributed to L'Amour's knowledge for later books, but also contributed to his popular persona as an experienced adventurer and trusted friend. Audiences were attracted to the comfortable and accessible, yet still exciting and different personality that L'Amour exuded. He was perceived by the public as a kindly, interesting man with time to narrate uncountable western stories. Just as L'Amour has shared several previous traits with other long-standing authors of bestsellers, he too shares this aspect of success. Many of the afore mentioned writers attained more respect and widespread interest through their previous occupations and their public persona. John Grisham was a lawyer before becoming an author, which gave him certain clout as one with inside knowledge on the occupation. Tom Clancy was an oddly intriguing author who spurned much media attention, but maintained a mysterious aura as a confidant to several governmental agencies (see essay on Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising). All of these writers and many more insinuate that the success of a novel and its rise to bestseller status may be affected by the public perceptions of the author's background and his personality. L'Amour in particular held an added advantage in this field of public persona. Amidst the celebrity-crazed decade of the 1980s, he became associated with such men as President Reagan. Many articles were quick to point to Reagan's like for L'Amour's novels and some even mentioned that Reagan read Jubal Sackett while in the hospital recovering from surgery. At that period in history, Reagan was the prototype of the all-American good guy-accessible and comfortable, yet at the same time dashing and intriguing. The association of L'Amour and also specifically Jubal Sackett with the president in his prime was clearly a positive market force. Not only did Reagan like L'Amour's books but he also awarded him the Congressional National Gold Medal for lifetime literary achievement in 1983 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984. L'Amour received both of these awards in the two years before Jubal Sackett was published in 1985, and he likely attained a boosted public perception of himself as a hero and as a role model. As one critic quoted, "The president had once hailed Mr. L'Amour for 'having brought the West to the people of the East and to people everywhere?' "(CLC Yearbook). Thus, L'Amour not only demanded intrigue and respect for his own background, but he also held the prestigious honor of gaining much public praise from the president who was also believed to embody these traits of adventurous excitement combined with accessible friendliness. L'Amour and Jubal Sackett demonstrate that celebrity associations and public perceptions may affect sales and may increase public appeal, leading to bestseller status. Jubal Sackett teaches us several important factors concerning bestsellers. Along with other very recognizable names in writing, L'Amour has succeeding through maintaining one formula of writing and style, and much of the time even holding to one set of characters. L'Amour gains accessibility through numerous methods, including that adherence to one formula, and Jubal Sackett demonstrates that success is not dependent on originality or complexity. Certainly bestsellers need a certain flair or particular angle to attract an audience, but the masses do not seem to need such originality as is often praised in the literary world. Instead, L'Amour learned that the sheer accessibility of his books combined with a previously established fan base created an atmosphere ripe for bestsellers from every genre and every type. Jubal Sackett indicates that often bestsellers are bestsellers simply because they possess the accessibility and the name recognition to transcend literary flaws or originality. Works Cited Dixon, Chris. Critical Essay on Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising "Jubal Sackett" Library Journal (1 June 1985): 144 "Jubal Sackett" New York Times Book Review (2 June 1985): 7,22 "Louis L'Amour" Contemporary Literary Criticism Yearbook (1988): 307, 309 "Louis L'Amour" Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook (1980): 245
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