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Extended Audio Sample The Virginian Audiobook, by Owen Wister Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.64 out of 53.64 out of 53.64 out of 53.64 out of 53.64 out of 5 3.64 (50 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Owen Wister Narrator: John Pruden Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2010 ISBN: 9781452670607
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A strong, silent stranger rides into the lawless lands of the western frontier, battles horse thieves, deals with unyielding scoundrels, and wins the heart of a schoolmarm. Owen Wister’s 1902 classic—the first great novel of the American West—is rich in moral drama and vernacular wit. His hero—like knights of old—lives by an enduring code of chivalry and is governed by quiet courage and a deep sense of honor.

Set in the vast Wyoming territory, this masterpiece helped establish the code of the West and its stereotypical characters: the genteel but brave cowboy, the pretty spinster from back East, and villains beyond redemption. The novel is also on record for incorporating the first known “shootout” in American literature.

In 1977 The Virginian was voted by the Western American Writers as the greatest western novel of all time. Brimming with action, romance, and atmosphere, it remains a classic of frontier fiction.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annette | 2/20/2014

    " Some may find it hard to get through - but a great western story that is true for everyone - stay true to yourself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kent | 2/19/2014

    " The original western; written in 1902. A classic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kareem | 2/12/2014

    " A solid book, though often too simple and more than a little annoying. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 2/3/2014

    " This book was great - it's considered the first Western classic and it's full of cowboys, western drawl, and everything else you would expect in a Western. It's all about a man who is given no other name than 'the Virginian' and his life at the edge of the frontier and how he woos a certain schoolteacher from the East. While it is written in the first person from another person's perspective, some of the things that take place are only known from an omniscient perspective (I'm not sure if Wister knew he could switch it up). It was a really fun read and I can see now why it is a 'classic'. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nora | 1/31/2014

    " This book was so much fun to read. Even though it dealt with some pretty sobering themes, the general tone was light-hearted (I often found myself chuckling out loud as I read) and there was even a nice little love story woven in. It has action, intrigue, romance, a little mystery, drama and comedy. The book is narrated in the first person by an unnamed character who is a friend of the title character. It was explained that the stories in the book had been recounted to this friend, who was then recounting them to us. This worked well for the most part, but started to feel a little implausible, especially with regards to the nice little love story. The narrator seemed a little too all-knowing, if you see what I mean. But I didn't let that get in the way of my enjoyment of the story itself, and the descriptions of the West made me homesick for it. This is a book I'd read again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 1/27/2014

    " considered the grandpa of the stereotypical western with a twist of philosophy thrown in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erika | 1/20/2014

    " I loved the character of the Virginian. The love story was sweet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bevin | 1/19/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. A very good western romance. It is definitely character driven, and doesn't contain overly much action though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Raine | 1/6/2014

    " My husband suggested this for me to read, and to keep him happy I did. Well, at least in the beginning. There are some very interesting insights into men and women, those that have and those without, culture and the lack of it. I really enjoyed this! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jen | 1/2/2014

    " I thought this book was so charming. Classic western, good cowboy, etc. A western isn't one I'd typically pick up, so I was glad to get the recommendation and try something new. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lucy | 12/31/2013

    " A classic and rightfully so. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Onelasttear | 12/24/2013

    " Read it a reeeeally long time ago. All I remember is it was long. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica Fugate | 12/19/2013

    " I borrowed this book randomly from my friend Ted to read during a really boring class... it was the most serendipitous hap-upon-a-book ever...I'm not a big "Western" genre fan, but the setting could have been anywhere... Owen Wister, like Olive Burns (Cold Sassy Tree) is absolutely hilarious in portraying the experiences of the main character, in this case, a well-bred easterner during his sojourn in the "wild" west. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sherah | 12/15/2013

    " It's interesting to read 'The Virginian' alongside the movies and television shows it spawned. While the book itself defies 'the western' as a genre in many ways, its translations may seen as stereotypically 'western'. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kasey | 11/30/2013

    " This book was written in the early 1900's. It's interesting but not a super page turner. I critic said it made him understand what it meant to be a man...I'm not completely sure about that...but it's good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Tuley | 9/14/2013

    " I read this book for the first time when I was nine years old, and I can still remember quotes from it today. (When somebody accuses the Virginian of being an S.O.B., he says, "Smile when you call me that.") It's the way a cowboy story ought to be -- no unnecessary words, no slapstick action, and the good guy wins. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rita | 9/10/2013

    " This was a fairly good story if you can manage the old fashioned language and Wister's phonetic spelling of his attempt at the Virginian accent of the main character. Nice romantic story with old west themes running through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clare Mcdermott | 9/8/2013

    " This book is a great example of life in the West. The characters have such unique and distinguishable values that fit so well with the time period. Many of the characters and situations are familiar and relatable, while others are quite difficult to comprehend. Another great read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Yak | 9/8/2013

    " Nice evocation of life on the ranch in 1880s Wyoming, though the plot moves too slowly and is quite predictable. However, the langage used by the Virginian is delightful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 6/15/2013

    " The language was a bit hard to follow at first, but I enjoyed the book much more than I thought that I would. There's something for everyone in the book: humor, romance, drama. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 6/9/2013

    " I thought this book was an interesting commentary on frontier morality. It's to bad justice or mercy is no longer as simple. I must admit though that as far as the romance part of the story goes, I didn't feel the girl appreciated or had enough faith in "the virginian." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 6/3/2013

    " "When you call me that, SMILE." Clearly written for Teddy Roosevelt's enjoyment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elaine | 5/18/2013

    " The original Western with a noble hero. I found out that it's one of Julie Beck's favorite books too. One of the few books I've read on my Kindle. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sarah | 5/16/2013

    " Again, a groundbreaking novel. But REALLY boring for my tastes. Western historical fiction readers (specifically frontier era) - enjoy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindee | 4/22/2013

    " Ahhh...the classic American love story. This book has some amazing imagery and the characters are written and developed extremely well. I had a lot of fun reading this book. It's not the type I would usually go for, but it was hard to put down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phil | 2/12/2013

    " One of the great classic westerns and always a fun read "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennie | 12/31/2012

    " My dad's favorite book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenni Wilson | 10/20/2012

    " This was the western that started started the genre. I loved the not-too-overdone love story and the many suble principles this book contained. Great reading! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maybebaby | 7/8/2012

    " fireside read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Labecca | 6/18/2012

    " I grew up in Wyoming so... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emma | 3/24/2012

    " I feel it's written more as a set of excellent short stories with the same main characters than an actual novel, but definitly wonderful nonetheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexa | 3/14/2012

    " A very good romantic cowboy book. My Mother's favorite. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Verena | 3/5/2012

    " Beautiful, just beautiful. A great story, with a wonderful voice that is stimulating in so many ways. I'm currently reading this with Ema on my 3rd time through and loving it once again!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sherah | 3/1/2012

    " It's interesting to read 'The Virginian' alongside the movies and television shows it spawned. While the book itself defies 'the western' as a genre in many ways, its translations may seen as stereotypically 'western'. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joel Tweeten | 2/28/2012

    " I really liked this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 11/25/2011

    " Pretty fun read. Edition not great because of small margins. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charity U | 11/2/2011

    " I had trouble getting through this book, though that may only be because I was reading several other more interesting books. The story was a cowboy story, with a dash of romance, and quite fun! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 John | 9/21/2011

    " Subtly homoerotic, fascist Western "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elaine | 5/17/2011

    " The original Western with a noble hero. I found out that it's one of Julie Beck's favorite books too. One of the few books I've read on my Kindle. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Al | 4/20/2011

    " I wanted to enjoy this because of the reviews, but could'nt make any more than Page 124 (of 384) when I tired of the disconnected prose along with a wandering storyline. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liberty | 4/18/2011

    " Enjoyed the humor, sense of honor, earnest approach to life, and hard work exhibited by the main character. No wonder America fell in love with the cowboy! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 3/18/2011

    " This is a very early western novel and includes good bits of history that make it very interesting. Many other books and movies were inspired by this novel. I liked it a lot. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy | 3/16/2011

    " The first real Western in America.
    Interesting commentary on masculine/feminine roles; enjoyable read
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gizzard | 3/15/2011

    " Long winded Little House on the Prairie for grownups. This is only recommended for people who love the mythology of the good and noble cowboy who lived by superior morals. I live in the west, and I just don't buy it, even if some of the people who live around me do believe it "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annette | 2/18/2011

    " lovely book written and set in the late 1800s in Wyoming. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 2/12/2011

    " I really liked this book!! The only bad thing was that I couldn't get Garth Brooks songs out of my head while I read it. Not a problem for some people, but not a pleasant thing for me! Other than that, this book was fun and so well written that I had a hard time putting it down!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Diane | 1/16/2011

    " Young cowboy works on a ranch in Wyoming, falls for a schoolteacher, and keeps the peace in the wild west. Odd narration. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rosemarie | 12/24/2010

    " Never cared to read a western, but on Catharine's recommendation, I read this and LOVED it. This is one I would like to re-read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lek | 12/16/2010

    " Much better than the tv show, lol! Excellent character sketches. On what a man is. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 12/10/2010

    " This is an awesome book - it's about the real wild west, before it was settled, with a manly cowboy and a great romance. "

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About the Author
Author Owen Wister

Owen Wister (1860–1938) showed promise as a musician early in his life, but his father directed him into a career in banking and then the law. Plagued with neurasthenia, Wister took a variant of the “rest cure” of Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell, traveling to Wyoming on Mitchell’s advice. From these experiences, Wister began to write short stories about the West. His Western writing culminated in the 1902 publication of The Virginian, the most popular Western ever written. In addition to novels, Wister wrote short stories, operas, plays, poetry, and nonfiction, including biographies of Ulysses S. Grant and George Washington.

About the Narrator

John Pruden is an Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. His exposure to many people, places, and experiences throughout his life provides a deep creative well from which he draws his narrative and vocal characterizations. His narration of The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers was chosen by the Washington Post as a Best Audiobook of 2010.