The Thundering Herd

The Thundering Herd

Posted by jack_miller | Published 5 months ago

With 22 ratings

By: Zane Grey

Purchased At: $2.01 (47 used & new offers)

In this breathless tale of bravery and battle, of white man's courage and red man's daring, Zane Grey has written one of his finest novels - the great western writer's story of the buffalo hunters, and the passing of the great herds of buffalo. The Thundering Herd is the story of the buffalo and of their near extinction when hide hunters swarmed the plains killing them by the tens of thousands, and at the same time helping to eliminate the Indians by killing their food supply. Grounded in the author's sense of western history, it shows in no uncertain terms how white men were debased by the wanton destruction of the herds.
Looking at some of these other reviews I think some people try to read too much into this book. Obviously, it is based on fact. Buffaloes did roam the western plains by the hundreds of thousands. And this book helps explain how they were easily hunted to near extinction. I'm sure the life of the buffalo hunter and skinner are pretty accurate. This could make a pretty accurate, if not boring book, if not for the writer's insertion of a romance between a young buffalo hunter (Tom Doan) and a young orphaned girl (Nelly Fayre) and the forces that attempt to keep them apart. Nelly, who lost her father young, then her mother shortly after her mother remarried, is now controlled by a step father who has eyes on eventually taking her as his own as soon as she is eighteen, and as a buffalo hunter crew leader, is able to shield Nelly from others more her age who might take an interest in her. A very good book, one of Zane Grey's finest.

- ephraim_diaz

The Thundering Herd is a decent adaptation of the Zane Grey story.

Dell Comics didn't wear the "Comics Code Authority" seal, soon after Congress and others accused comics companies of contributing to juvenile delinquency, since their comics were "good comics."

And it's true. Their four-color issues were fun to read and dealt with wholesomeness but also tended to sugar-coat the realities of life as here on the open prairies.

The Kindle version starts out with a nice painted cover of a cowboy as he tries not to fall off his white horse as it rides atop a fierce bison buffalo. Quite a dramatic cover to convince any 10 year old boy to pull out that dime and get some Western stories.

The Kindle version has a Wiki article on Zane Grey (which obviously was not on the original comic book), giving the reader some background on Zane, such as his rough childhood and depression as he carved out a writing career.

The Dell comic tries to do this too in comic-strip form, but sugar-coats it. Family is supportive and people who rejected his stories are looked on as crazy editors, quite a stretch from the Wiki story. Zane was a dentist and soon gave it up for the Wild West, and with the help of his wife who organized things, he became a successful writer, if a pretty bad, neglectful husband.

Stories and Plots:

The first story is the bio of Zane Grey himself, with the modest title, "King of the Westerns." Zane is seen as writing the Lone Star Ranger (later the Lone Ranger!), and his story's impact in the movies, novels and on radio. In 1939 "he came to the end of the trail" but his legacy lives on, etc., etc. Art is not bad. Writing tends to be a bit over the top.

Title page has a cool article on the Sequoia Tree, where you can ride a whole Wells Fargo coach through it!

Main Story: The Thundering Herd stars Tom Doan, who hooks up with some guys who want to go out buffalo hunting. To the modern reader, the hundreds of buffalo mercilessly shot down by rifles, with their meat wasted and hides stretched to sell at market might be a bit much, but that was apparently how things were in the Old West. The Indians are looked at as hostile savages. The women, supporting their men.

One such woman meets Tom and they immediately take a liking to each other, but she has a mean father in law and she's not "of age." Good dynamic tension here, though hackneyed in its execution.

The art is stiff but shows good action between man and horse and buffalo. Enjoyed the close-up panels with action and excitement. Some panels take up the entire middle of the page as Tom rides hard through a herd.

A few tear-jerkers as Tom thinks Milly Fayre is dead after an Indian raid. This girl is tough to kill as she uses a herd of buffalo to disguise her escape from Indians. Yeow!

Written Story:

Some sections of the comic are pure story text without much illustration. This one was about young Jim Harkness who gets his first rifle. His dad is proud of him. Jim runs into a bear and then things start happening. It's one page, and gives some decent pointers on power and responsibility.

"True Western Adventures", about Jesse James' gang trying to hold up a bank, and a particularly plucky banker who won't let them do it. It's great how the town gets together and starts shooting at Jesse and the gang shoots back, yet not ONE person gets killed by a bullet. Bad shots! At the story end, Dell Comics encourages the kids to read another Zane story, "The Trail Driver." I just might, but it may cost more than the ten cent cover price!

A cute article about the modern cowboy "At Work, At Play." Nice picture of a mesa and a cowboy looking out on the prairie, as we learn of the attitudes and hard work the cowboy enjoys.

Finally a cute article from Wrigley Juicy Fruit Gum (keeps your teeth clean, kids). Dopey Dan rides his bike recklessly and doesn't obey traffic rules. Safety Sam though always does these things. Which do you think Wrigley's wants you do be? There are no morality articles in today's comics, unfortunately.

Kindle Quirks: You can just slide your finger across your Kindle to "turn" the pages, but it's hard to read. I tap on the screen twice to enlarge the page, read it, then tap again to activate the slider. The slider doesn't work when the page is in "enlarge" mode.

Bottom Line:

Interesting history of the West, with one of the more prolific writers of westerns, Zane Grey. The stories are fair, which is too bad. I'm sure the actual novels are richer in description and characterization. The morality plays in the comic are heartening though it's way too bad today's comics don't do this.


- isaac_allen

A good western to read in a couple days.

- alexia_lopez

I've read this book before and loved every page of it. I bought this hardback copy for a friend who manages the buffalo herd for one of Oklahoma's indigenous tribes.

- madisyn_gray

I bought this because of the reference to my ancestors.

- josiah_gomez

Super great book

- kaylin_wright

This was a gift for Christmas and the recipient was thrilled with it! Condition was okay, which did not matter.

- demetrius_allen

I recently read The Thundering Herd by Zane Grey, and my wife calls what was happening out West, the killing of buffalo, a “hunting orgy.” The author quotes “Buffalo Jones” as saying, “Nature never constructed a more perfect animal,” but imagine believing “Nature” constructed anything! Zane wrote of the Buffalo’s “great, shaggy, matted head [which] had been constructed to face icy blasts of winter” and quoted Jones as saying that the buffalo “was an evolution of the Great Plains.” Not so! Creator Christ “constructed” every buffalo, Zane Grey, and every reader of his book.
This is not to say that Zane was an unbeliever. On p. 308, he had heroine Milly say, “God has answered my prayer.” He had her reflecting on “Providence” (p. 323), had her say, “Oh—thank Heaven!” on p. 326, and “It’s—gospel—truth” on p. 329. On p. 373, however, the author again wrote of the “marvelous instinct that had evolved” the buffalo and, a page later, mixed evolution and God: “God and nature had placed the wonderful beasts on earth for a purpose, the least of which might have been to furnish meat and robe for men in a measure of reason.” He also honored the sanctity of marriage with the hero and heroine planning on marriage on the final page.
There is plenty of buffalo shooting, thundering herds, Indian battling, and western drama in this book. I give it 4.5 stars (which drops to 4). Why? The Creator does not get as much attention as He deserves. [My issue was a hardcover, 400 pp, Harper and Brothers, 1st edition, 1925.]

- nash_chavez

I have read and reread time and again the wondrous works of Zane Grey. Grey captures and depicts every detail of the terrain, weather and characters. He brings everything to life and makes the reader feel they are actually there, and allows you to live the story through his eyes, a simply amazing gift..

- darwin_young

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