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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Giant book of the Western

Published in 1991 as The Mammoth Book of the Western, this is a reprint dated 1995 with a slightly revised title.Superb cover!

Twenty-seven short stories. Great value. There are excellent tales by the late Elmer Kelton, Willa Catha, Max Brand, James Warner Bellah, Elmore Leonard, Jack Schaefer and Loren D Estleman – several of them actually Spur winners.

Of late, there’s been talk about how revisionist westerns now deal with the Indians in a more balanced way. Yet the issue of the noble savage had been around quite a while, as editor Lewis points out in his introduction. ‘… amplified by the decision of the Curtis magazine group that the Indian point-of-view must not be shown in its journals, a decision which stemmed from the audience outrage that greeted Zane Gray’s fictional attempt in 1922 to depict a love affair between a white woman and Amerindian man, in Ladies’ Home Journal. From the 1950s, however, the American Indian began to be more sympathetically – and realistically – portrayed in the popular western…’

This can be exemplified by the included stories of John G Neihardt’s ‘The Last Thunder Song’ (1907), Oliver La Farge’s ‘The Young Warrior’ (1938), Dorothy M Johnson’s ‘A Man called Horse’ (1949), and Steve Frazee’s excellent ‘Great Medicine’ (1953).


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