Winner of countless praise, Gunfighter Nation changed the way we view almost all aspects of American history. It is a well-crafted critical work that articulates earlier French theories of common mythologies and their influences on history but frames them in purely American terms. Viewing the fictional works of Zane Gray, James Fenimore Cooper, the historical work of Teddy Roosevelt and Frederick Jackson Turner, the influence of popular entertainment like Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and the genres of the western film and film noir Slotkin methodically describes the construction of the American frontier myth. He explores how this myth has influenced the personal lives of great figures of American history and subsequently affected all forms of American policy both foreign and domestic. The book connects the myth of the frontier to common perceptions of race, class and gender and illustrates how integral that myth was in America's attempts to expand into the Caribbean, battle the forces of Communism in Europe and project power into Southeast Asia. There are some particularly interesting sections that deal specifically with how the frontier myth inspired the strategic and tactical mindset of the war in Vietnam. Without the slightest hyperbole this book is truly revolutionary. Slotkin was one of the first to tell the story of American history through its influence on pop culture and one of the first to show the influences of pop culture on history. His theories of American myth making have become the backbone of almost all work being done in American Studies and this series is among the most commonly cited resources in academic works over many broad fields. Clearly the source and still the best for any serious (and even amateur) student of American history. Its innumerable accolades are well deserved.
"Gunfighter Nation" follows the influence of the Old West and the Frontier (both real and how it was percieved; sometimes the two are at odds) in American history from the 1800's to modern times. It makes a good point in showing how Western movies mirror the times in which they are made and how the frontier experience is still with us today. The two drawbacks of the book is its EXTREMELY long length and its Leftist ideology that pops up toward the end.