Cover image for The western hero in history and legend
The western hero in history and legend
Steckmesser, Kent Ladd, 1928-
Publication Information:
Norman : University of OklahomaPress, [1997]

Physical Description:
xiii, 281 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F591 .S8 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The American West was a glittering gold mine for early-day writers, who eagerly extracted from it the names of picturesque "heroes" to form the foundations of their fanciful and romantic reconstructions. In The Western Hero in History and Legend, Kent Ladd Steckmesser examines how folk heroes are created, choosing for the purpose Billy the Kid, as prototype of the outlaw; Wild Bill Hickok, the gunfighter; Kit Carson, the mountain man; and General George A. Custer, the soldier. He finds that these men, whatever the relative importance of their actual exploits, are significant to interpretations of history because of the epic proportions of their legends. By debunking much of the mythology surrounding these four famous Western figures, Steckmesser provides a valuable lesson in critical analysis as well as showing how rumor, untruth, and legend can become accepted as history. A new foreword by Brian W. Dippie is also included in this edition.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Much of what the American public believes it knows about the settling of the West comes from penny dreadfuls and B movies. Steckmesser here separates truth from legend‘without necessarily discarding the legend as worthless‘in portraits of four Western archetypes: Billy the Kid as outlaw; Wild Bill Hickok as gunfighter; Kit Carson as mountain man; and General Custer as soldier. This "well-written" volume offers an insightful look at history (LJ 3/15/65). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.