American West: The Invention of Myth

Overview

"Americans have chosen to invest one small part of their history, the settlement of the western wilderness, with extraordinary significance. The lost frontier of the 1800s remains not merely a source of excitement and romance but of inspiration, because it is seen as providing a set of unique and imperishable core-values; individualism, self-reliance and a pristine sense of right and wrong. As a construct of the imagination, America's creation of the West is unique. Since this construct has little to do with history, The American West argues that ...
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Overview

"Americans have chosen to invest one small part of their history, the settlement of the western wilderness, with extraordinary significance. The lost frontier of the 1800s remains not merely a source of excitement and romance but of inspiration, because it is seen as providing a set of unique and imperishable core-values; individualism, self-reliance and a pristine sense of right and wrong. As a construct of the imagination, America's creation of the West is unique. Since this construct has little to do with history, The American West argues that our beliefs about the West amount to a modern functional myth." "In addition to presenting a sustained analysis of how and why the myth originated, David Murdoch demonstrates that the myth was invented, for the most part deliberately, and then outgrew the purposes of its inventors." The American West answers questions which have too often been either begged or ignored. Why should the West become the focus for myth in the first place, and why, given the long process of western settlement, is the cattleman's West so central and the cowboy, of all prototypes, the mythic hero? And why should the myth have retained its potency up to the last decade of the twentieth century?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781860570124
  • Publisher: International Specialized Book Services
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Pages: 136
  • Lexile: 1340L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Preface
Ch. 1 History Through the Looking Glass 1
Ch. 2 Myths and Heroes 12
Ch. 3 Manufacturing Images 24
Ch. 4 The Knights of the Range 44
Ch. 5 The Myth-Makers 63
Ch. 6 The West's Response 81
Ch. 7 The West of the Politicians 100
Epilogue 116
Bibliography 121
Index 131
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