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Spur Awards


The Spur Awards, given to the best in “western” fiction, were established in 1953 by the Western Writers of America, and have been presented annually ever since. When originally established, the awards were presented for the Best Western Novel, Best Historical Novel, Best Juvenile and Best Short Story. Over the years, the awards have been modified and expanded to include several other types of writing about the west. The modern Spur Awards are presented for Best Western Contemporary Novel, Best Western Historical Novel, Best Western Traditional Novel, Best Mass Market Paperback Novel, Best First Novel, and several other categories which are not included on the list below (including screenplays, short fiction, poetry, non-fiction and westerns for youth). We started adding the adult non-fiction winners to our list in 2015. For a complete history of the Spur Awards and a listing of the winners in all of the categories, visit the official History of the Spur Awards web site, hosted by the Western Writers of America.

Book titles “hotlinked” in the list below are owned by the Lincoln City Libraries, and the link will take you to the holdings screen in our catalog, where you can check on the current availability of that title. Notes: In 1997, the WWA adjusted the Spur Awards to begin reflecting the year the awards were presented, rather than the year the books were published. This resulted in the appearance of no awards being presented in 1997. In 2007, the categories were noticeably adjusted – “Novel of the West” was eliminated; “Best Western Novel” was broken into Long and Short categories; and other changes occured.

Best Western Contemporary Novel – C.J. Box – Dark Sky
Best Western Historical Novel – Michael Punke – Ridgeline
Best Western Traditional Novel – Chase Pletts – The Loving Wrath of Eldon Quint
Best Mass Market Paperback Novel – Brett Cogburn – This Side of Hell: A Widowmaker Jones Western
Best First Novel – Chase Pletts – The Loving Wrath of Eldon Quint
Best Western Romance – Susanna Lane – Imperfect Promise
Best Western Biography – Wynne Brown – The Forgotten Botanist: Sara Plummer Lemmon’s Life of Science and Art
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Finis Dunaway – Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice
Best Western Historical Non-Fiction – Terry Mort – Cheyenne Summer: The Battle of Beecher Island: A History

Best Western Contemporary Novel – David Heska and Wanbli Weiden – Winter Counts
Best Western Historical Novel – James Wade – All Things Left Wild
Best Western Traditional Novel – Tyler Enfield – Like Rum Drunk Angels
Best Mass Market Paperback Novel – Johnny D. Boggs – A Thousand Texas Longhorns
Best First Novel – David Heska and Wanbli Weiden – Winter Counts
Best Western Romance – Tom Lowe – Midnight’s Whisper
Best Western Biography – Peter Cozzens – Tecumseh and the Prophet
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Huston Farrell – Billionaire Wilderness
Best Western Historical Non-Fiction – Robert M. Utley – The Last Sovereigns

Best Western Contemporary Novel – Shannon Pufahl – On Swift Horses
Best Western Historical Novel – Sheldon Russell – A Forgotten Evil
Best Western Traditional Novel – Margaret Verble – Cherokee America
Best Mass Market Paperback Novel – Reavis Z. Wortham – Hawke’s Target
Best First Novel – Shannon Pufahl – On Swift Horses
Best Western Romance – C.K. Crigger – The Yeggman’s Apprentice
Best Western Biography – Diana Allen Kouris – Nighthawk Rising: A Biography of Accused Cattle Rustler Queen Ann Bassett of Brown’s Park
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns – Country Music: An Illustrated History
Best Western Historical Non-Fiction – Pekka Hämäläinen – Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power

Best Western Contemporary Novel – Susan Henderson – The Flicker of Old Dreams
Best Western Historical Novel – G.K. Aalborg – River of Porcupines
Best Western Traditional Novel – Brad Smith – The Return of Kid Cooper
Best Mass Market Paperback Novel – Reavis Z. Wortham – Hawke’s War
Best First Novel – Leo W. Banks – Double Wide
Best Western Romance – C.K. Crigger – The Woman Who Built a Bridge
Best Western Biography – Mark J. Nelson – White Hat: The Military Career of Captain William Philo Clark
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Francisco Cantu – The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
Best Western Historical Non-Fiction – Brenden W. Rensink – Native but Foreign: Indigenous Immigrants and Refugees in the North American Borderlands

Best Western Contemporary Novel – Leo W. Banks – Double Wide
Best Western Historical Novel – David Osborne – The Coming
Best Western Traditional Novel – Jeff Guinn – Silver City: A Novel of the American West
Best Mass Market Paperback Novel – Charles G. West – Hell Hath No Fury
Best First Novel – Leo W. Banks – Double Wide
Best Western Romance – Gina Welborn and & Becca Whitham – The Promise Bride
Best Western Biography – Jane Little Botkin – Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Flannery Burke – A Land Apart: The Southwest and the Nation in the Twentieth Century
Best Western Historical Non-Fiction – David Grann – Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI [2018 One Book – One Lincoln winner!]

Best Western Contemporary Novel – C.J. Box – Off the Grid
Best Western Historical Novel – [ No Award Given This Year ] Best Western Traditional Novel – Daisy Richards – The Mustanger and the Lady
Best Mass Market Paperback Novel – Johnny D. Boggs – Return to Red River
Best First Novel – James T. Hughes – Jasper Spring
Best Western Biography – Joe Jackson – Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Michael Duchemin – New Deal Cowboy: Gene Autry and Public Diplomacy

Best Western Contemporary Novel – Keith McCafferty – Crazy Mountain Kiss
Best Western Historical Novel – Joe R. Lansdale – Paradise Sky
Best Western Traditional Novel – Sandra Dallas – The Last Midwife
Best Mass Market Paperback Novel – Randy Denmon – Lords of an Empty Land
Best First Novel – Shann Ray – American Copper
Best Western Biography – T.J. Stiles – Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Leisl Carr Childers – The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin
Best Western Historical Non-Fiction – William Heath – William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest

Best Western Contemporary Novel – C.B. McKenzie – Bad Country
Best Western Historical Novel – James D. Crownover – Wild Ran the Rivers
Best Western Traditional Novel – Patrick Dearen – The Big Drift
Best First Novel – James D. Crownover – Wild Ran the Rivers
Best Western Biography – Phillip Burnham – Song of Dewey Beard: Last Survivor of the Little Big Horn
Best Western Contemporary Non-Fiction – Angela Day – Red Light to Starboard: Recalling the Exxon Valdez Disaster
Best Western Historical Non-Fiction – Jerome A. Greene – American Carnage: Wounded Knee, 1890

Best Western Contemporary Novel – James Lee Burke – Light of the World
Best Western Historical Novel – Henry Chappell – Silent We Stood
Best Western Traditional Novel – Gary Schanbacher – Crossing Purgatory
Best First Novel – Anne Hillerman – Spider Woman’s Daughter

Western Novel (Long) – Thomas Cobb – With Blood in Their Eyes
Western Novel (Short) – Tucker Mayo – Tucker’s Reckoning
Paperback Original – Larry Sweazy – The Coyote Tracker

Western Novel (Long) – Stephen Harrigan – Remember Ben Clayton
Western Novel (Short) – Johnny D. Boggs – Legacy of a Lawman
Paperback Original – Johnny D. Boggs – West Texas Kill

Western Novel (Long) – Lucia St. Clair Robson – Last Train From Cuernavaca
Western Novel (Short) – Richard S. Wheeler – Snowbound
Paperback Original – Max McCoy – Damnation Road

Western Novel (Long) – Robert Flynn – Echoes of Glory
Western Novel (Short) – Robert Olmstead – Far Bright Star
Paperback Original – John D. Nesbitt – Stranger in Thunder Basic

Western Novel (Long) – Thomas Cobb – Shavetail
Western Novel (Short) – Craig Johnson – Another Man’s Moccasins
Paperback Original – John D. Nesbitt – Trouble at the Redstone

Western Novel (Long) – Aryn Kyle – The God of Animals
Western Novel (Short) – Sandra Dallas – Tallgrass
Paperback Original – Max McCoy – Hellfire Canyon

Western Novel (Long) – Elizabeth Crook – The Night Journal
Western Novel (Short) – Tony Hillerman – The Shape Shifter
Paperback Original – Dusty Richards – The Horse Creek Incident

Western Novel (tie) – Johnny D. Boggs – Camp Ford
Western Novel (tie) – Loren D. Estleman – The Undertaker’s Wife
Novel of the West – Willard Wyman – High Country
Paperback Original – Matt Braun – Dakota

Western Novel – Rick Steber – Buy the Chief a Cadillac
Novel of the West – Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear – People of the Raven
Paperback Original – Richard S. Wheeler – Vengeance Valley

Western Novel – Brian Hall – I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company
Novel of the West – Win Blevins – So Wild a Dream
Paperback Original – Barbara Wright – Plain Language

Western Novel – Sandra Dallas – The Chili Queen
Novel of the West – Debra Magpie Earling – Perma Red
Paperback Original – David Marion Wilkinson – Oblivion’s Altar: A Novel of Courage

Western Novel – Elmer Kelton – The Way of the Coyote
Novel of the West – Brady Udall – The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint
Paperback Original – Richard S. Wheeler – Drum’s Ring

Western Novel – Mike Blakely – Summer of Pearls
Novel of the West – Stephen Harrigan – The Gates of the Alamo
Paperback Original – Troy D. Smith – Bound for the Promise-Land

Western Novel – Richard S. Wheeler – Masterson
Novel of the West – Ellen Recknor – Prophet Annie
Paperback Original – Jim Davidson – Mine Work

Western Novel – Loren D. Estleman – Journey of the Dead
Novel of the West – Jane Smiley – The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton
Paperback Original – Hiram King – Dark Trail

Western Novel – Cynthia Haselhoff – The Kiowa Verdict
Novel of the West – Larry McMurtry – Comanche Moon
Paperback Original – Ellen Recknor – Leaving Missouri

Western Novel – Preston Lewis – writing as Will Camp – The Blood of Texas
Novel of the West – Richard S. Wheeler – Sierra
Paperback Original – Frank Roderus – Potter’s Fields

Western Novel – Robert J. Conley – The Dark Island
Novel of the West – Win Blevins – Stone Song: A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse
Paperback Original – Jim R. Woolard – Thunder in the Valley

Western Novel – Tom Eidson – St. Agnes’ Stand
Novel of the West – Elmer Kelton – The Far Canyon
Paperback Original – K.C. McKenna – Survival

Western Novel – Charles Hackenberry – Friends
Novel of the West – Jeff Long – Empire of Bones
Paperback Original – Gary McCarthy – The Gila River

Western Novel – Robert J. Conley – Nickajack
Novel of the West – Elmer Kelton – Slaughter
Paperback Original – T.V. Olsen – The Golden Chance

Western Novel – Richard Matheson – Journal of the Gun Years
Novel of the West – Jory Sherman – The Medicine Horn
Paperback Original – Norman Zollinger – Rage in Chupadera

Western Novel – Gary Svee – Sanctuary
Novel of the West – Jeanne Williams – Home Mountain
Paperback Original – Don Coldsmith – The Changing Wind

Western Novel – Richard Wheeler – Fool’s Coach
Novel of the West – James Alexander Thom – Panther in the Sky
Paperback Original – C. Clifton Wisler – Among the Eagles

Western Novel – Judy Alter – Mattie
Novel of the West – Glendon Swarthout – The Homesman

Western Novel – Tony Hillerman – Skinwalkers
Historical Novel – Robert Flynn – Wanderer Springs

Western Novel – Ralph Robert Beer – The Blind Corral
Historical Novel – Douglas C. Jones – Roman

Western Novel – Larry McMurtry – Lonesome Dove
Historical Novel – John Byrne Cook – The Snowblind Moon

Historical Novel – Douglas C. Jones – Gone the Dreams and Dancing

Novel – Frank Roderus – Leaving Kansas
Historical Novel – Bryan Woolley – Sam Bass

Novel – Fred Grove – Match Race
Historical Novel – Lucia St. Clair Robson – Ride the Wind

Novel – Elmer Kelton – Eyes of the Hawk (tie) | Lee Head – Horizon (tie)
Historical Novel – Loren D. Estleman – Aces and Eights

Novel – Jeanne Williams – The Valiant Women

Novel – William Decker – The Holdouts

Novel – Norman Zollinger – Riders to Cibola

Novel – Fred Grove – The Great Horse Race
Historical Novel – Terrance Kilpatrick – Swimming Man Burning

Novel – Lou Cameron – The Spirit Horses (tie) | Douglas C. Jones – The Courtmartial of George Armstrong Custer (tie)
Historical Novel – Matt Braun – The Kincaids

Novel – Glendon Swarthout – The Shootist

Novel – Stephen Overholser – A Hanging in Sweetwater

Novel – Elmer Kelton – The Time it Never Rained

Novel – Lewis B. Pattern – A Killing in Kiowa
Historical Novel – Will Henry – Chiricahua

Novel – Elmer Kelton – The Day the Cowboys Quit

Novel – Clifton Adams – The Last Days of Wolf Garnett

Novel – Clifton Adams – Tragg’s Choice
Historical Novel – Benjamin Capps – The White Man’s Road

Novel – Louis L’Amour – Down the Long Hills
Historical Novel – Lewis Patten – The Red Sabbath

Novel – Lee Hoffman – The Valdez Horses
Historical Novel – Chad Oliver – The Wolf is My Brother

Novel – Herbert R. Purdom – My Brother John
Historical Novel – Garland Roark/Charles Thomas – Hellfire Jackson

Novel – Benjamin Capps – Sam Chance
Historical Novel – Todhunter Ballard (tie) – Gold in California | Vardis Fisher (tie) – Mountain Man

Novel – Benjamin Capps – The Trail to Ogallala
Historical Novel – F.F. Halloran – Indian Fighter

Novel – Leigh Brackett – Follow the Free Wind
Historical Novel – Will Henry – Gates of the Mountains

Novel – Fred Grove – Comanche Captives
Historical Novel – Don Berry – Moon Trap

Novel – Giles Lutz – The Honyocker
Historical Novel – William Wister Haines – The Winter War

Novel – Will C. Brown – The Nameless Breed
Historical Novel – Will Henry – From Where the Sun Now Stands

Novel – Nelson Nye – Long Run
Historical Novel – John Prebble – The Buffalo Soldiers

Novel – Noel Loomis – Shortcut to Red River
Historical Novel – Amelia Bean – The Fancher Train

Novel – Elmer Kelton – Buffalo Wagons
Historical Novel – Dan Cushman – Silver Mountain

Novel – Leslie Ernenwein – High Gun
Historical Novel – John Clinton Hunt – Generations of Men

Novel – L.P. Holmes – Somewhere They Die

Novel – Wayne D. Overholser – The Violent Land
Historical Novel – John Prescott – Journey By the River

Novel – Lee Leighton – Law Man
Historical Novel – Lucia Moore – The Wheel and the Hearth

Last updated October 2022 sdc