One of the most interesting books published today is this analysis of the environment in Western cinema.

Gunfight at the Eco-Corral, by Robin L. Murray & Joseph K. Heumann, takes as its starting point the backstory of the Clint Eastwood film Pale Rider and hydraulic mining—the bad guys in the picture—and then moves on to deal with the depletion of water, oil, lumber, minerals, buffalo and other natural resources, in other words the driving engines, literally and figuratively, of the West and of Western movies. The cattle, sheep and farming wars, the land rushes, the death and dislocation of the American Indians and the growing technologies, including the telegraph, all played a role in the movies, from long before 1953’s Shane and up to last year’s Rango. It’s a complex story that deserves to be read.

—Henry Cabot Beck

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