TALES FROM THE AMERICAN FRONTIER by Richard Erdoes

TALES FROM THE AMERICAN FRONTIER

edited by

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Homespun yarns and tall tales ``edited, told, and retold'' by Erdoes (co-editor, American Indian Myths and Legends, 1984, etc.) in a problematic compilation of the legends that arose from the taming of the American wilderness. From the frontiers of the original colonies, this assortment of stories works its way westward across the 19th century, detailing encounters with two- and four-legged critters, natives, and most unusual natural phenomena. The famous figures of the West throughout the period, from Daniel Boone and Billy the Kid to Calamity Jane and Judge Roy Bean, find a proper place in episodes fashioned from dime novels and penny dreadfuls or culled from other sources, with mythical characters from both Native American and European traditions amply represented as well. In subjects ranging from cannibalism in the gold fields to the professional ethics of trappers, river boatmen, and loggers, through sagas of single combat and battles of wit that are generally hyperbolic and outrageous, the yarns reflect the nascent American spirit as well as the challenging circumstances from which it grew--but, unfortunately, overzealous recasting of the originals has produced much unnecessary commentary and a pervasive synthetic quality that dilutes and homogenizes the material instead of enhancing it. Meant to be a definitive collection but more often a derivative effort, unable to claim consistently either authenticity or a compelling originality. (B&w illustrations--not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-51682-6
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991




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