Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Book Review: Education of a Wandering Man

A few days ago I finished Louis L'Amour's memoir, Education of a Wandering Man. Louis left school in tenth grade and "began an earnest self-education stirred by a passion for books." His life, and thus the book, "is a story of an adventure in education, pursued not under the best of conditions. The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to anyone within reach of a library, a post office, or even a newstand."

Louis L'Amour's education included the reading of thousands of books. He traveled around the country and world finding work. And, in the process, listened to the stories the various people he met. Those travels and stories became the basis for his popular short stories and books.

Here is a terrific quote about education: "No one can 'get' an education, for of necessity education is a continuing process. If it does nothing else, it should provide students with the tools for learning, acquaint them with methods of study and research, method of pursuing an idea. We can only hope they come upon an idea they wish to pursue."

I enjoyed the book, though it seemed to ramble and be repetitive at times. I went to The Official Louis L'Amour website and read the section titled "brief biography." On page 6 of 6, it talks about Education of a Wandering Man. Here is a paragraph that explains the writing of this 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."

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