2014 Spur Awards

The Spur Award was initiated in 1953 by the Western Writers of America to recognize the best in Western fiction. Over the years, the award grew in number to acknowledge the diversity of Western literature for adults, teens, and children. If you are looking for a story "full of souls filled with concern, fear, joy and desire," you won't be disappointed with one of these award winning Westerns.

Best Western Contemporary Novel
Winner: Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel James Lee Burke 

Finalist: Kind of Kin by Rilla Askew 
Finalist: The Old Man’s Love Story by Rudolfo Anaya

Best Western Historical Novel
Winner: Silent We Stood by Henry Chappell 

Finalist: The Promise by Ann Weisgarber   
Finalist: Greasy Grass: A Story of the Little Big Horn by Johnny D. Boggs

Best Western Traditional Novel
Winner: Crossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher  

Finalist: Destiny Made Them Brothers by Andrew J. Fenady   
Finalist: The Hardest Ride by Gordon L. Rottman  

Best First Novel
Winner: Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman 

Finalist: Crossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher  
Finalist: La Grulla by John R. Wright  

Best Western Nonfiction Historical
Winner: Shot all to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape by Mark Lee Gardner 

Finalist: Shooting Arrows and Slinging Mud: Custer, The Press and the Little Bighorn by James E. Mueller  
Finalist:  The Heart of Everything that Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin  

Best Western Nonfiction Contemporary
Winner: Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country William Philpott

Finalist: Trees in Paradise: A California History by Jared Farmer  
Finalist: Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture by Larry D. Gragg  

Best Western Nonfiction Biography
Winner: Jack London: An American Life by Earle Labor  

Finalist: Cowboy Stuntman: From Olympic Gold to the Silver Screen by Dean Smith with Mike Cox 
Finalist: In the Shadow of Billy the Kid: Susan McSween and the Lincoln County War by Kathleen P. Chamberlain  

Check out this complete list of categories with winners and finalists. Books not owned by the Denver Public Library may be available through Prospector or Interlibrary Loan. Please visit or call us today. We have a Western read waiting for you!

Written by Laurie. on April 10, 2014


Anonymous on April 12, 2014


I noticed that the Short Categories are not on this list. It is interesting to note that Mark Lee Gardner who won for Shot all to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape also won for his article on Frank James in Wild West Magazine. He is a Colorado author as well!

Laurie. on April 12, 2014


Thank you! I would so enjoy hearing Mark Lee Gardner speak about his work. Short fiction and the other categories are available by clicking the hyperlink "complete list" above.

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