The Creation of the Cowboy Hero

Fiction, Film and Fact


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About the Book

As business interests have commercialized the American West and publishers and studios have created compelling imagery, the expectations of readers and moviegoers have influenced perceptions of the cowboy as a hero. This book describes the evolution of the cowboy hero as a mythic persona created by dime novels, television and Hollywood. Much of our concept of the cowboy comes to us from movies and the book’s main focus is his changing image in cinema. The development of the hero image and the fictional West is traced from early novels and films to the present, along with shifting audience expectations and economic pressures.

About the Author(s)

Jeremy Agnew, a biomedical electronics consultant, holds a PhD in engineering and has been involved in the design and manufacture of medical devices for more than 30 years. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has written several books on the Old West.

Bibliographic Details

Jeremy Agnew
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 51 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7839-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1814-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Timeline of Notable Influences on the Perception of the Western Hero ix

Preface 1

1. There Have to Be Heroes 5

2. The Legend Begins 17

3. The Lure of the Dime Novels 28

4. The Great Showman 44

5. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West 56

6. More and More Wild West Shows 74

7. Our Cowboy Heroes 83

8. Flickering Images 95

9. Tom Mix and the Flashy Showmen 109

10. Pulp Magazines and ­Mass-Market Paperbacks 120

11. Warbling Cowboys and the Silver Screen 134

12. Brooding Heroes 152

13. And a Suitable Heroine 166

14. Violence Returns 183

15. The Image Persists 199

Postscript 215

Chapter Notes 219

Bibliography 227

Index 231