David’s classic novel, First Blood, was inspired by westerns, so it’s fitting that he eventually decided to immerse himself completely in the genre. Last Reveille is a scrupulously researched, action-filled dramatization of a watershed event in American history when the United States military began its transition into the tactics of modern warfare.
The plot sounds like a thriller. In 1916, Mexican bandit Pancho Villa raided the southwestern border town of Columbus, New Mexico. Three hundred American soldiers fought four hundred attackers in a battle that ended with one of the last cavalry charges in U.S. history. Outraged, Congress ordered the U.S. Army to invade Mexico in pursuit of Villa. For the first time, trucks and airplanes accompanied U. S. cavalry into combat, practicing for America’s entry into World War I.
Influenced by Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, Rambo-creator David Morrell dramatizes this epic era in American history through the eyes of a civilian scout old enough to have been in the Civil War, the Indian wars, Cuba, and the Philippines. Knowing that his ways are finished, he teaches a young recruit about the past, at a cost he never expected to pay.
For the special 35th anniversary e-book edition, David substantially revised the original text. It also contains a lengthy introduction.
David’s extensive understanding of the genre is also evident in his in-depth study, John Wayne: The Westerns.
“David Morrell’s Last Reveille is back in a newly revised—even better—version than when it first appeared in 1977. Featuring two of Morrell’s greatest characters, the green kid Prentice and the John Wayne-like Miles Calendar, Last Reveille is an exciting, well-researched account of ‘Black Jack’ Pershing’s 1916 expedition after Pancho Villa. It’s a cinematic, end-of-the-west epic, but also a gripping, moving character study told by a true master.”
—Johnny D. Boggs, four-time Spur Award winning author of Northfield, former president of Western Writers of America
“Seldom has action been so breathlessly described . . . Rousing and moving . . . an exciting novel in hard, crackling prose.”
“The action has a glory about it.”
Stephen King once told me he thought this was one of my best novels. John Wayne was the model for the aging cavalry scout. For research, I traveled to Columbus, New Mexico, which hasn’t changed much since 1916, and walked the route of Villa’s raid as well as the army’s counterattack. In the midst of a dust storm, I could almost hear the gunshots and the bugle calls.