The Western, though a singularly American art form, is one of the great genres of world literature with a truly global readership. It is also durable despite being often unfairly maligned.
Ever since James Fenimore Cooper transformed frontier yarns into a distinct literary form, the Western has followed two paths: one populist - what Time magazine famously billed 'the American Morality Play' - capable of taking many points of view, from red to redneck, but always populist, with a sentimental attachment to the misfit; the other literary - eschewing heroism, debunking with unsettling candour many of the myths of the West.
It can sometimes be difficult to draw a sure line between the two forms, but both are represented in this outstanding collection which includes stories by Rick Bass, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Larry McMurtry, Mari Sandoz, Christopher Tilghman, and Mark Twain, among many others.
Jon E. Lewis is an historian whose numerous books include The Mammoth Book of Native Americans and The Mammoth Book of The West. He lives in Herefordshire with his partner and children. Rick Bass won the 1995 James Jones Literary Society Novel Fellowship for Where the Sea Used to Be, and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for his autobiography Why I Came West. As well as being one of America's foremost fiction writers, he is also a leading nature writer and environmentalist. He lives in the remote Yaak Valley, in Montana.