Eighty-three years after Walter Noble Burns’ death comes Mark J. Dworkin’s American Mythmaker, the first literary biography of the Chicago journalist-turned-author who rekindled America’s passion for the old and epic West.

In fascinating blends of fact and myth he called “apocryphal cantos,” Burns rendered Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp as Homeric figures. Scorned by later generations of scholars for his unverifiable narratives, Burns is all but forgotten today. Author Dworkin makes a remarkable case that Burns deserves a second reading, because of his sly combination of authentic narrative with mythic storytelling.

Max McCoy, author of Jesse: A Novel of the Outlaw Jesse James.

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