On the Trail of the American Buckaroo (McFarland, $45)

The-Creation-of-the-Cowboy-hero-by-Jeremy-AgnewJeremy Agnew has taken on a massive task in The Creation of the Cowboy Hero: Fiction, Film and Fact, tracing not only the origins of the cowboy/hero image in our  culture, but its still-felt impact, while contrasting the image with the realities of the West.

In all, Agnew does a very fine job with his historical references, and the research is heavily noted, but the book needs more breathing room, as major subjects, like the meteoric rise of the Western paperback, or the films of Eastwood, are dashed through in a few paragraphs.  Cowboy Hero shapes up as an important reference on a huge subject, while encouraging further reading.

 

Courtney Joyner, author of The Westerners: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers