The Sagebrush Trail
Western Movies and Twentieth-Century America
The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 traces the birth and growth of Westerns from 1900 through the end of World War II. Part 2 focuses on a transitional period in Western movie history during the two decades following World War II. Finally, part 3 shows how Western movies reflected the rapid political, social, and cultural changes that transformed America in the 1960s and the last decades of the twentieth century.
The Sagebrush Trail explains how Westerns evolved throughout the twentieth century in response to changing times, and it provides new evidence and fresh interpretations about both Westerns and American history. These films offer perspectives on the past that historians might otherwise miss. They reveal how Americans reacted to political and social movements, war, and cultural change. The result is the definitive story of Western movies, which contributes to our understanding of not just movie history but also the mythic West and American history. Because of its subject matter and unique approach that blends movies and history, The Sagebrush Trail should appeal to anyone interested in Western movies, pop culture, the American West, and recent American history and culture.
The mythic West beckons but eludes. Yet glimpses of its utopian potential can always be found, even if just for a few hours in the realm of Western movies. There on the silver screen, the mythic West continues to ride tall in the saddle along a “sagebrush trail” that reveals valuable clues about American life and thought.
“Film buffs and history lovers will equally appreciate this insightful look at perhaps America's most enduring contribution to popular culture.”—Journal of Arizona History
“Vivid and well written.”—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society