Jack Burns is a cowboy and a man out of time. He has a steadfast refusal to accept the what he perceives as the tyranny of the twentieth century world he lives in and instead, Burns opts to ride his feisty chestnut mare across the New West--what was once a beautiful, unblemished land but that is now tarnished by airstrips and superhighways. He rejects contemporary society, refuses to register for the draft, and cuts down any and all fences he encounters.
It is this personal code of ethics and way of being that get Jack into trouble with the law, and soon enough he finds himself running from the very thing that could break his spirit--a fight for his freedom which, if caught, he may have to swap for the confinement of a grubby jail cell. The novel was adapted into the 1962 film Lonely Are the Brave starring Kirk Douglas.