Gunfighter Nation

Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 1998-03-01
Publisher(s): Univ of Oklahoma Pr
List Price: $34.95

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Gunfighter Nation completes Richard Slotkin's trilogy, begun in Regeneration Through Violence and continued in Fatal Environment, on the myth of the American frontier. Slotkin examines an impressive array of sources - fiction, Hollywood westerns, and the writings of Hollywood figures and Washington leaders - to show how the racialist theory of Anglo-Saxon ascendance and superiority (embodied in Theodore Roosevelt's The Winning of the West), rather than Frederick Jackson Turner's thesis of the closing of the frontier, exerted the most influence in popular culture and government policy making in the twentieth century. He argues that Roosevelt's view of the frontier myth provided the justification for most of America's expansionist policies, from Roosevelt's own Rough Riders to Kennedy's counterinsurgency and Johnson's war in Vietnam.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Significance of the Frontier Myth in American History Myth and Historical Memory; The Politics of Myth; Regeneration Through Violence: The Language of the Myth; The Frontier Myth as a Theory of Development; "Progressives" and "Populists" 1(28)
Part I: The Mythology of Progressivism, 1880-1902 29(96)
1. The Winning of the West: Theodore Roosevelt's Frontier Thesis, 1880-1900 Sources and Premises; The Historian as Hunter; The Winning of the West: A Progressive Myth of Origins; Recovering the Frontier: Regeneration Through Imperialism
2. The White City and the Wild West: Buffalo Bill and the Mythic Space of American History, 1880-1917 Staging Reality: The Creation of Buffalo Bill, 1869-1883; The Wild West and the Ritualization of American History; The Ritual Frontier and the Sanctification of Imperialism
3. Mob, Tribe, and Regiment: Modernization as Militarization, 1883-1902 Origins of the Military Metaphor; Cavalry in the Streets, 1890-1896; Roosevelt's Rough Riders: The Regiment as Social Microcosm; The Philippine "Insurrection" as Savage War, 1898-1902; "1008 Dead Niggers": The Logic of Massacre
Part II: Populists and Progressives: Literary Myth and Ideological Style, 1872-1940 125(106)
4. Mythologies of Resistance: Outlaws, Detectives, and Dime-Novel Populism, 1873-1903 Social Banditry in Fact and Fiction: The Reconstruction Outlaws, 1865-1880; The Pinkerton Detective: Hawkeye Among the Communists; The Outlaw/Detective: Heroic Style as Ideology; The Significances of Dime-Novel Populism
5. Aristocracy of Violence: Virility, Vigilante Politics, and Red-Blooded Fiction, 1895-1910 "Men Who Do the Work of the World"; Recovering the Savage: Remington, London, Garland; The Virginian (1902) and the Myth of the Vigilante; Democracy or Civilization: Dixon's The Clansman (1904); The Political Uses of Symbolic Violence
6. From the Open Range to the Mean Streets: Myth and Formula Fiction, 1910-1940 Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Virginian in Outer Space, 1911-1925; Zane Grey: The Formula Western, 1911-1925; The Virginian in Nighttown: Origins of the Hard-boiled Detective, 1910-1940
Part III: Colonizing a Mythic Landscape: Movie Westerns, 1903-1948 231(116)
7. Formulas on Film: Myth and Genre in the Silent Movie, 1903-1926 Genre as Mythic Space; Cinematic Form and Mythographic Function: Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915); Icons of Authenticity: The Movie Star as Progressive Hero; The Epic Western, 1923-1931
8. The Studio System, the Depression, and the Eclipse of the Western, 1930-1938 The Studio as Genre-Machine, 1930-1938; The Two-Gun Man of the Twenties: Gangster Films, 1931-1939; The World-scale Western: "Victorian Empire" Movies, 1935-1940; "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...": "B" Westerns, 1931-1939
9. The Western Is American History, 1939-1941 The Rediscovery of American History; The Renaissance of the Feature Western; The Cult of the Outlaw; The Apotheosis of the "B" Western: John Ford's Stagecoach (1939)
10. Last Stands and Lost Patrols: The Western and the War Film, 1940-1948 The Problem of Engagement: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1939); The Problem of Defeat: Bataan (1943) as Last Stand; The Problem of Victory: Objective Burma (1945); The Problem of Memory: Fort Apache (1948)
Part IV: Democracy and Force: The Western and the Cold War, 1946-1960 347(142)
11. Studies in Red and White: Cavalry, Indians and Cold War Ideology, 1946-1954 Real-World Problems in Mythic Spaces: Dramatizing the Problem of Force; Cult of the Cavalry: Rio Grande (1950) and the Korean War; Cult of the Indian: Devil's Doorway and Broken Arrow (1950)
12. Killer Elite: The Cult of the Gunfighter, 1950-1953 The Revised Outlaw: From Rebel to Psychopath; The Invention of the Gunfighter; High Noon (1952): The Hero in Spite of Democracy; A Good Man with a Gun: Shane (1953); The Gunfighter Mystique
13. Imagining Third World Revolutions: The "Zapata Problem" and the Counterinsurgency Scenario, 1952-1954 Coloring the Looking-Glass: Mexico as Mythic Space, 1912-1952; The "Zapata Problem": The Strong Man Makes a Weak People; The Man Who Knows Communists: The Heroic Style of Covert Operations (1953-54); Fast Guns for "Zapata": The Counterinsurgency Scenario and Vera Cruz (1954)
14. Gunfighters and Green Berets: Imagining the Counterinsurgency Warrior, 1956-1960 American Guerrilla in the Philippines: The Landsdale Scenario; Imagining a Counterpart: The Ugly American (1958); The Ranger Mystique and the Origin of Special Forces; Search and Rescue/Search and Destroy: The Indian-Hater as Counterguerrilla; The Magnificent Seven (1960) and the Counterinsurgency Paradox
Part V: Gunfighter Nation: Myth, Ideology, and Violence on the New Frontier, 1960-1970 489(174)
15. Conquering New Frontiers: John Kennedy, John Wayne, and the Myth of Heroic Leadership, 1960-1968 Modernizing Turner: The Ideology of the New Frontier; Heroic Leadership and the Cult of Toughness; Defending the West: Epic Cinema and the New Frontier, 1960-1965; John Wayne Syndrome: The Cult of "The Duke"; Blockbuster Tactics: The Green Berets (1968) and the Big Unit War
16. Attrition: The Big Unit War, the Riots, and the Counterinsurgency Western, 1965-1968 The Road to Ben Tre: The (Il)logic of Attrition; The Race War Comes Home: Watts, Newark, Detroit (1965-1967); Exceptional Violence: Official Revisions of the Frontier Myth, 1967-1969; Recovering the Mission: Mexico Westerns, 1965-1968
17. Cross-over Point: The Mylai Massacre, The Wild Bunch, and the Demoralization of America, 1969-1972 "Indian Trip": The Mylai Massacre; The Demoralization of the Western: Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969); Lunatic Semiology: The Demoralization of American Culture, 1969-1973
18. Conclusion: The Crisis of Public Myth Indian Tripping: The Alternative Western, 1970-1976; Murderous Nostalgia: Myth and Genre After the Western; Back in the Saddle Again?: The Reagan Presidency and the Recrudescence of the Myth; Imagining America
Notes 663(104)
Bibliography 767(62)
Index 829

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