Published in 1985, Lonesome Dove would finally bring the Pulitzer Prize to Larry McMurtry. McMurtry was passed over for The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment. Yet the sprawling tale of a cattle drive headed up by two former Texas Rangers was received with near-unanimous acclaim. Readers agreed: Lonesome Dove spent twenty weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List and in addition to the nation’s top literary honor also collected the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America as well as the Texas Institute of Letters award for fiction.
Readership expanded in 1989 with the airing of a TV miniseries based on the novel that enjoyed huge ratings and won several Emmy and Golden Globe awards. The four-part miniseries was still not enough to capture every important element that McMurtry was compelled to put into the 900-page novel and what was boiled out of only further contributed to the widespread view that he had just written the defining western of his era. This perspective was situated directed in opposition to this intent: to write the ultimate anti-western of this or any previous era.
In 1993, McMurtry published a sequel to the novel that is set twenty years later: Streets of Laredo. The sequel bears the title of the screenplay which became the stimulus—by virtue of its never being produced—for writing his epic anti-western, or definitive western adventure novel, depending on perspective.