The Western Real and Imagined

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Arguing that Western movies have for more than a century “reflected American history and culture,” Richard Aquila’s ambitious new book, The Sagebrush Trail: Western Movies and Twentieth-Century America, surveys over a thousand films in 361 pages, resulting in an impressively panoramic view that too often settles into synoptic survey, neither particularly insightful nor even original. This is a pity because when he pauses to delve more substantially into a film or filmmaker, Aquila’s writing is informative and enlightening. The book could use a proper bibliography, a more detailed subject index, and far more pictures.

—Paul Seydor, author of The Authentic Death & Contentious Afterlife of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: The Untold Story of Peckinpah Last Western Film

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