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1. "Gun Job" | Thomas Thompson

Seasons pass in a sentence as Bellman makes his way west, pressing letters to Bess into the hands of travellers going in the opposite direction, scratching pictures in the soil of what he imagines the colossal creatures might look like and meeting only with blank faces or amusement.

Of course, Bellman is not the only one on the move: Native Americans are being displaced from eastern territories as the line of European settlement advances.

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The hat has a starring role. What can be named is outweighed by everything that cannot.

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Enumerating the manmade elements of the frontier world highlights the fragility of humans within it, how little they have to shore up against the wilderness. Her writing manages the odd feat of seeming both timeless and historically specific, and her comedy is no exception. She holds comedy and tragedy in equal, delicate balance. There are many worlds to explore within this deceptively short book, which gallops towards its conclusion with a mythic inevitability.

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Topics Fiction Book of the day. The western has as its setting the immense plains, rugged tablelands, and mountain ranges of the portion of the United States lying west of the Mississippi River , in particular the Great Plains and the Southwest. This area was not truly opened to white settlement until after the American Civil War —65 , at which time the Plains Indians were gradually subdued and deprived of most of their lands by white settlers and by the U. The conflict between white pioneers and Indians forms one of the basic themes of the western.

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Another sprang out of the class of men known as cowboys , who were hired by ranchers to drive cattle across hundreds of miles of Western pasturelands to railheads where the animals could be shipped eastward to market. The cattle and mining industries spurred the growth of towns, and the gradual imposition of law and order that such settled communities needed was accomplished by another class of men who became staple figures in the western, the town sheriff and the U. Actual historical persons in the American West have figured prominently in latter-day re-creations of the era.


The western has always provided a rich mine for stories of adventure, and indeed a huge number of purely commercial works have capitalized on the basic appeal of gunslinging frontier adventurers, desperadoes, and lawmen. But the western has also furnished the material for a higher form of artistic vehicle, particularly in motion pictures.

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This was perhaps because the historical western setting lacked the subtly confining web of social conventions and mundane safeties that typify more settled societies. In literature the western story had its beginnings in the first adventure narratives that accompanied the opening of the West to white settlement shortly before the Civil War. Accounts of the Western plainsmen, scouts, buffalo hunters, and trappers were highly popular in the East.

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An early writer to capitalize on the popularity of western adventure narratives was E. Owen Wister , who first saw the West while recuperating from an illness, wrote the first western that won critical praise, The Virginian Classics of the genre have been written by men who actually worked as cowboys; one of the best loved of these was Bransford in Arcadia ; reprinted as Bransford of Rainbow Range by Eugene Manlove Rhodes, a former cowboy and government scout. Andy Adams incorporated many autobiographical incidents in his Log of a Cowboy By far the best known and one of the most prolific writers of westerns was Zane Grey , an Ohio dentist who became famous with the classic Riders of the Purple Sage In all, Grey wrote more than 80 books, many of which retained wide popularity.

Lewis c. The Western Writers of America, formed in , has cited many fine western writers, including Ernest Haycox — ; W. Raine — , a former Arizona ranger who wrote more than 80 western novels; and B. Bower — , a woman whose talent for realistic detail convinced thousands of readers that she was a real cowboy writing from personal experience. Guthrie, Jr.

Many western novels and short stories first appeared in pulp magazines, such as Ace-High Western Stories and Double Action Western, that were specifically devoted to publishing works in the genre. The western film can be dated from Edwin S. Griffith made a series of highly successful westerns in the years before World War I.

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During the silent-screen era three actors achieved great popularity as stars of westerns. Hart realistically portrayed a strong, silent man of the frontier, and Tom Mix dazzled audiences with his polished horsemanship and cleverness in outwitting outlaws. Most of the hundreds of westerns made from the s to the s were low-budget films that had only slight variations on standard plots.

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