Max Allen Evans was born August 29, 1924 to Walter Burnace (W. B) Evans (1900-1979) and Hazel Glenn Swafford Evans (1904-1994) in Ropesville, Hockley County in Texas. Max was one of two children and had a younger sister named Glenda Rhue. Max grew up in the Panhandle of Texas and southeastern New Mexico and drew on his varied experiences and his knowledge of the culture to write over four dozen books, several of which were made into feature films.
Max grew up in Humble City and remembered doing errands and making delivery rounds on horseback as far as Lovington and smaller communities. His family moved there in the late 1920s. His father was farming and is said to have drilled one of the first irrigation wells for farming in the area. He grew potatoes, watermelons, strawberries and other vegetables. His father is said to have organized the township of Humble City. W. B. also organized a small school district and built a two room school house there, which Max attended though the third or fourth grade. W. B. also set up the first post office and Max’s mother Hazel served as Humble City’s first postmistress.
Max remembered living through the Great Depression there in Humble City and the difficulties his and other families experienced just getting through it and keeping their families fed. The Evans lived in Humble City for seven years in all.
Max tried his hand at ranching up in Union County in far northeastern New Mexico. He joined the United States Army in World War II and is said to have participated in the D Day landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. After his return from the war, he did some painting before he turned full time to writing. Max married and lived several more places, including Taos, before settling in Albuquerque around 1967.
This is a partial list of his fiction books:
- Southwest Wind (1958)
- Long John Dunn of Taos (1959)
- The Hi Lo Country (1962)
- The Rounders (1965)
- Shadow of Thunder (1969)
- My Pardner (1972)
- Bobby Jack Smith, You Dirty Coward! (1974)
- One-Eyed Sky (1974)
- The White Shadow (1977)
- The Mountain of Gold (1983)
- The Great Wedding (1983)
- Bluefeather Fellini (1993)
- Faraway Blue (1999)
- Now and Forever (2003)
- War and Music (2009)
- The King of Taos (2020)
This is a partial list of his nonfiction books:
- Sam Peckinpah, Master of Violence (1972)
- This Chosen Place (1997)
- Albuquerque (2000)
- Madam Millie (2002)
- Hi Lo Country: Under the One-Eyed Sky (2004)
- Making a Hand (2005)
- For the Love of a Horse (2007)
- Goin’ Crazy with Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends (2014)
Three of Evans’ works were made into feature films including The Rounders, The Wheel and The Hi-Lo Country. The Rounders was also made into a television series. Seventeen episodes were filmed in 1966 and 1967. Max was also cast as an actor in the Peckinpah film, The Ballad of Cable Hogue. His book, Sam Peckinpah, Master of Violence is about the making of that film.
For a number of years, a rodeo and celebration was held in Hobbs and was known as the High Lonesome Stampede (or Estampeda). The 1967 celebration was the ninth of its kind and one day was dedicated as “Max Evans Day” in which Max agreed to serve as parade marshall for the rodeo parade that opened up the three day affair.
Max passed in 2020. His honors include a commendation from City of Los Angeles. He was named honorary member of board of chancellors, University of Texas. He received the Saddleman Award, Western Writers of America, 1990. In 2015, he was honored with the Edgar Lee Hewett Award in recognition of his lifetime of service to the people of New Mexico. Max also received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Spur Award for Best Short Nonfiction. He continued to write up to the year that he passed away.