*****The Cowboy and the Cossack

Cowboy and the Cossack, Clair HuffakerBy Clair Huffaker, narrated by Phil Gigante. I loved this!! It’s one of Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscovery novels—books she believes are out of print and shouldn’t be. If this one is an indication, the whole list deserves to be checked out.

The Cowboy and the Cossack (Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries) is the story of 15 Montana cowboys and a herd of 500 longhorn cattle who travel by ship to Vladivostok and embark on a journey across the Siberian wilderness en route to the small town of Bakaskaya where the people are desperate to have them. Unexpectedly, when they arrive in Russia, they’re met for the trip by a troop of elite Cossack horsemen. The cowboys, under the leadership of laconic Shad Northshield, don’t want or need their help. Or so they think.

But what they think doesn’t matter, because the Cossack leader, Captain Rostov, is every bit the stubborn leader Northshield is. Told through the eyes of a young cowboy named Levi Dougherty–and Gigante’s perfect narration–the novel is a coming-of-age story, a “when men were men” Western, and a thrilling adventure. It’s told in the appropriately colorful language of a young man of the 1880’s, which adds to the realism. Levi struggles to see the multiple points of view of the two cultures—and the men in them—thrown together in extreme and life-threatening circumstances.

Clair Huffaker, who died in 1990, wrote more than a dozen Western and other novels, as well as screenplays (including The Comancheros and Rio Conchos) and for the television series, Lawman. Huffaker’s daughter has written about the significance of having this book dedicated to her, and among her thoughtful comments is this: “It is a profound honor for me to (invite) new readers into an epic adventure tale which at its core illuminates the essential traits that my father believed a true man should steadfastly possess: honor, courage, integrity, and quiet strength.”

Comment from reader Nancy Kaminsky: “I am half way through reading The Cowboy and the Cossack per your recommendation. I love this book. The writer’s descriptions are so vivid. Thanks for your review. It may be the best book that I have ever read.”