Spur Awards - Best Novel of the West

The Spur Awards are given annually by the Western Writers of America in a variety of categories. The Best Novel of the West award was last awarded in 2006.

Award Year Authors(s) Title
2006 Willard Wyman High Country: A Novel The packer's business is guiding mule trains into mountains where wagons can't travel. It's a life of danger, long days, and low pay. But for those wedded to the wilderness and inaccessible high country, it is the only life there is.During the Great Depression, young Ty Hardin is sent from his family's failing Montana ranch to learn from the last of the great packers, Fenton Pardee, a legend in the Montana Rockies for his packing adventures across the Swan Range all the way to the Big Divide.
2005 Kathleen O'Neal Gear, W. Michael Gear People of the Raven In the newest installment of the bestselling Prehistoric North America series, a beautiful red-haired woman stumbles into the council lodge and begs Rain Bear and his struggling Raven People for sanctuary.
2004 Win Blevins So Wild a Dream An authority on the fur trade era of the American West, Blevins opens his Rendezvous series with fur-trapper Sam Morgan's journey into the dangerous upper Missouri River country with a brigade of trappers to complete the first phase of his mountain education.
2003 Debra Magpie Earling Perma Red Louise White Elk dreams of both belonging and escape, and of discovering love and freedom on her own terms. "Perma Red" is a love-crossed saga about a young woman coming of age under perilous circumstances, and about the consequences of her often contradictory desires.
2002 Brady Udall The Miracle and Life of Edgar Mint
2001 Stephen Harrigan The Gates of the Alamo This full-scale novel about the siege and fall of the Alamo weaves in a love story between an American naturalist and a widow innkeeper who, along with her 16-year-old son, get swept up in the harrowing events of the heroic battle.
2000 Ellen Recknor Prophet Annie
1999 Jane Smiley The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton The memoirs of a woman who marries an abolitionist from New England and with him settles in Kansas in the fateful year of 1855 to help ensure that the territory will enter the Union as a free state.
1998 Larry McMurtry Comanche Moon Here we find Texas Rangers August McCrae and Woodrow F. Call struggling to protect the Western frontier against the defiant Comanches, who are determined to defend their way of life.
1997 "For promotional purposes, the WWA Executive Board in 1997 voted to redesignate the Spur Awards to reflect the year the award is presented rather than the year the work was published."
1996 Richard S. Wheeler Sierra The acclaimed author of Goldfield and Cashbox now recreates one of the pivotal events in Western American history--the great, gaudy, gold stampede to California in 1848-49--and weaves into this glittering backdrop the stories of two unlikely gold seekers.
1996 Win Blevins Stone Song: A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse Crazy Horse, the enigmatic Lakota Sioux best known for his role in defeating Custer at Little Big Horn, is eulogized in a fictional account.
1994 Elmer Kelton The Far Canyon A sequel to the Spur Award-winning Slaughter finds hunter Jeff Layne returning to Texas to find himself caught up in a border war, and his old enemy Comanche Crow Feather trying to escape with his family from reservation life.
1993 Jeff Long Empire of Bones A compelling fictional account of the battle and the man that changed the history of Texas. A novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution.
1992 Elmer Kelton Slaughter As white buffalo hunters slaughter huge herds of bison and the Comanche nation fights back with strength and guile, a cast of rugged characters braves the rugged frontier.
1991 Jory Sherman The Medicine Horn From the southern frontier to the busy streets of St. Louis, Lem Hawke, the greatest of the Big Sky Mountain Men, lives, loves, and fights hard.
1990 Jeanne Williams Home Mountain
1989 James Alexander Thom Panther in the Sky
1988 Glendon Swarthout The Homesman After venturing west of the Missouri to stake claims in uncharted territory, a number of settlers find the earth fallow and the desolate, lonely winters unbearable. When four of the wives go mad, the local minister entrusts a prim, strong-willed young schoolmarm, Mary Bee Cuddy, to transport them back to Iowa by covered wagon. With her, virtually against his will, is Briggs, a dishonest, foul-mouthed land-grabber (he steals other peoples' claims) whom Mary Bee saved from a lynching in exchange for his help.
1987 Robert Flynn Wanderer Springs Oral historian Will Callahan returns to his hometown to chronicle its rural past and urban present.
1986 Douglas C. Jones Roman
1985 John Byrne Cook The Snowblind Moon
1984 Douglas C. Jones Gone the Dreams and Dancing
1983 Brian Woolley Sam Bass
1982 Lucia St. Clair Robson Ride the Wind
1981 Loren D. Estleman Aces and Eights The story of the death of one of the West's greatest living legends--Wild Bill Hickok. While playing poker in Deadwood's Number 10 Saloon, Hickok was shot in the back by Jack McCall. Forever after, Hickok's poker hand of a pair of aces and a pair of eights has been known as the "Dead Man's Hand".
1980 No Award Given
1979 No Award Given
1978 No Award Given
1977 Terrence Kilpatrick Swimming Man Burning
1976 Matt Braun The Kinkaids
1975 No Award Given
1974 No Award Given
1973 No Award Given
1972 Will Henry Chiricahua
1971 No Award Given
1970 No Award Given
1969 Bejamin Capps The White Man's Road
1968 Lewis Patton The Red Sabbath
1967 Chad Oliver The Wolf is My Brother
1966 Garland Roark, Charles Thomas Hellfire Jackson
1965 Vardis Fisher Mountain Man Tailored after the actual "Crow Killer" John Johnson, Sam Minard is a mountain man who seeks the freedom that the Rocky Mountains offers trappers. After his beloved Indian wife is murdered, Sam Minard becomes obsessed with vengeance, and his fortunes become intertwined with those of Kate Bowden, a widow who faces madness. This remarkable frontier fiction captures that brief season when the romantic myth of the far West became a fact.
1965 Todhunter Ballard Gold in California
1964 E.E. Halloran Indian Fighter
1963 Will Henry Gates of the Mountains
1962 Don Berry Moon Trap
1961 William Wister Haines The Winter War
1960 Will Henry From Where the Sun Now Stands
1959 The Buffalo Soldiers The Buffalo Soldiers
1958 Amelia Bean The Fancher Train
1957 Dan Cushman Silver Mountain
1956 John Clinton Hunt Generations of Men
1955 No Award Given
1954 John Prescott Journey by the River
1953 Lucia Moore The Wheel and the Hearth