I’ve long been a fan of Louis L’Amour. I can say that specifically about him because I don’t really enjoy "western" novels, and yet I enjoy his. Additionally, I enjoy his non-"western" novels much more than his traditional fare. Last Of The Breed is one of these.
Set in the 1980’s, it’s the story of Joseph Makatozi, an Air Force test pilot forced down over the Bering Sea by the Russians, because they want what he knows about future Air Force technology. He’s taken to a secret camp in the middle of Sibera, near Lake Baikal. The Russians who took him only vaguely understand that he’s an American Indian of some sort. What they don’t realize is that he was raised in the Old Ways, and perfectly content to hop the fence and walk across Siberia to get home. Which is exactly what he does.
L’Amour does an excellent job of showing the internal struggles between the GRU (which took Our Hero), and the KGB. Both want to recapture Makatozi, one to save face, one to triumph over the other.
He also does an excellent job of portraying The Dissidents, people who live on the edge of society, usually in the forest, who love their country while not necessarily loving her government. These people are not armed fighters, merely people who prefer not to have anything to do with the government, and wish to live peacefully alone.
Many survival techniques are detailed. Nothing miraculous, simply common sense things learned by people who have had to survive for many years. We see how he looks for bear, and eats the raw fat to get enough fat to survive the cold. How he makes foot coverings, but like all natural foot coverings, they wear out very quickly.
Throughout the book, Our Hero is most concerned about a single opponant, a Yakut tracker employed by the Army. Of all the people tracking him, this man is a woodsman, and knows how to find his man.
Last Of The Breed is an excellent read, being amazing yet plausable. It hearkens back to the comfortable days when the only Bad Guys in the world were those squirrely Communists, and we knew where they were and what they were doing.
I’ve read it probably a dozen times in my life, I highly recommend it.