Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly 33:3 (Summer 2013)


© 2013 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska


A Book on the Making of Lonesome Dove entrenches the epic deeply among Western history lovers. John Spong’s forty interviews with author Larry McMurtry and many of the cast and crew take you behind the scenes as you reexperience the life of American cowboys and westward expansion. Stunning film photography by Jeff Wilson, joined by exciting on-set stills by executive producer and screenwriter Bill Wittliff, bring readers a feast of visualization. A part of the Southwestern and Mexican Photograph Series of the Wittliff Collections in San Marcos, Texas, the book adds yet another chapter to the pioneer legend.

Despite often being considered a Texas story, much of Lonesome Dove’s action takes place across the Great Plains. Dust of the Kansas Plains swirls around the cattle herd, while scenes of early Ogallala, Nebraska, evidence early urban development. Buffalo roamed the continent, yet the story of their history and near extinction holds prominence in the Great Plains. The tenuous lives of the prairie pioneers, buffalo hunters, and farmers are clearly defined, as are the dangers of crossing rivers such as the Canadian, Platte, and Yellowstone. Angelica Huston’s Clara amazingly depicts the women who survived the isolated loneliness of the Great Plains frontier. Native Americans get the too-often bad press, but were decidedly a force to be contended with as they maintained claim to their rightful homelands.