History and politics

August 2001








The american west
The invention of a myth

David H Murdoch

A very useful introduction to an important topic
Robert Murray Davis, Southwest Book Views

A provocative addition to any classroom discussion of American cultural and diplomatic history. Murdoch writes very well, and the book will also appeal to the general reader
Paul Fees, OHQ

Packs tremendous analysis into a stimulating, trim book
Molly P. Rozum, Western Historical Review

An easy read, an accessible and intelligent account...with great verve, based on extensive reading in original literature
The Magazine of Western History, Montana

In this breezy, provocative and wonderfully readable book, David Murdoch shows how the West as we know it was invented in the last decade of the nineteenth-century
Brian W. Dippie, author of West Fever

This is a concise, informative, insightful, and highly readable account
David Wrobel

The Wild West of Hollywood and American folklore is nothing more than a functional myth asserts D.H. Murdoch in The American West, which for the first time, presents a sustained analysis of how the myth originated, and why? He demonstrates that the myth was invented, for the most part deliberately, and then outgrew the purpose of its inventors. Murdoch answers the questions which have too often been ignored. Why should the American West become the focus for myth in the first place and why, given the long process of Western settlement, is the cowboy the mythic hero? And why should the myth have retained its potency up to the last decade of the twentieth century?

David Hamilton Murdoch is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Leeds University and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.