This wide-ranging book illuminates the importance of the Western in American history. It explores the interconnections between the Western in both literature and film and the United States in the 20th century. Structured chronologically, the book traces the evolution of the Western as a uniquely American form. The author argues that Americas frontier past was quickly transformed into a set of symbols and myths, an American meta-narrative that came to underpin much of the American century. He details how and why this process occurred, the form and function of Western myths and symbols, the e.