This marvelous collection brings together the great myths and legends of the United States--from the creation stories of the first inhabitants, to the tall tales of the Western frontier, to the legendary outlaws of the 1920s, and beyond. This thoroughly engaging anthology is sweeping in its scope, embracing Big Foot and Windigo, Hiawatha and Uncle Sam, Paul Revere and Billy the Kid, and even the Iroquois Flying Head and Elvis. In the book's section on dogmas and icons, for instance, Leeming and Page discuss the American melting pot, the notion of manifest destiny, and the imposing historical and literary figure of Henry Adams. And under Heroes and Heroines, they have assembled everyone from "Honest Abe" Lincoln and George "I Cannot Tell a Lie" Washington to Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Martin Luther King, Jr. For every myth or hero rendered here, the editors include an informative yet readable excerpt, often the definitive account of the story in question. Taken as a whole, Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America reveals how waves of immigrants, encountering this strange land for the first time, adapted their religions, beliefs, and folklore to help make sense of a new and astounding place. Covering Johnny Appleseed and Stagolee as well as Paul Bunyan and Moby Dick, this wonderful anthology illuminates our nation's myth-making, enriching our idea of what it means to be American.
As they did with The Mythology of Native North America, Leeming and Page take a thematic approach to their exploration of American mythology and lore. Rather than examine various American cultures separately, they divide their material into three sections: Deities, Demideities, Dogmas and Icons for a New Land; New World Mythical Monsters and Fabulous Creatures; and New World Heroes and Heroines. Within each section are selections from Native American, European American (including Hispanic American), African American, and Asian American traditions. The choices range from Zuni creation myths to tall tales, spirituals and James Weldon Johnson's "The Creation." Cotton Mather has his say as does Elvis, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. A bibliography and a useful index round out the text nicely. This eclectic collection has a place in any high school library as it underscores and enhances any history course and serves well as a springboard for further discussion. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Oxford Univ. Press, 221p, 24cm, 97-48607, $15.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Donna L. Scanlon; Children's Libn., Lancaster Area Lib., Lancaster, PA, November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
David Leeming is a former Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut and also the author of many books, including The World of Myth, Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero, and Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney. Jake Page is an essayist, science writer, novelist, and co-author with his wife Susanne of the books Hopi and Navajo. Leeming and Page have collaborated in the past on Goddess and God, both published by Oxford.