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Hunger for the Wild America's Obsession with the Untamed West

ISBN-10: 0700615016
ISBN-13: 9780700615018
Edition: 2007
List price: $34.95
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Description: Just what was so wild about the Wild West? Americans have had an enduring yet ambivalent obsession with the West as both a place and a state of mind. Now one of the most knowing observers of the Western scene offers a monumental cultural and  More...

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Book details

List price: $34.95
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Publication date: 3/14/2007
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 552
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 2.134
Language: English

Just what was so wild about the Wild West? Americans have had an enduring yet ambivalent obsession with the West as both a place and a state of mind. Now one of the most knowing observers of the Western scene offers a monumental cultural and historical analysis of how ideas of wildness have shaped the ways Euro-Americans have perceived, reacted to, and acted upon the West for nearly five hundred years. Bringing the sensibility of a poet to a sweeping discussion of place, Michael L. Johnson considers how that obsession originated, how it has determined attitudes toward and activities in the West, and how it has changed over the centuries. Investigating views of Western wildness from pre-European times until the present, Johnson tells how explores and settlers bent on exploiting the West brought with them Old World ideas, full of muddled and even bizarre contradictions, that have defined the region in its most fundamental aspects. And he shows how those contradictory ideas were woven into an ambivalent ideology of conquest that has given us today's degraded wilderness areas, overtaxed water supplies, and sprawling suburbs. Brimming with word-play, personal anecdotes, and telling vignettes, Hunger for the Wild provocatively addresses a cornucopia of Western personalities, phenomena, and events. Invoking a vast array of writers and thinkers--from Claude Levi-Strauss to Black Elk to Richard Etulain--Johnson casts his critical eye on conquistadors and cowboys and revisits myths of Noble Savage and "red devil" alike. His kaleidoscopic text examines Dust Bowl woes and Wild West shows, and whether contemplating the Disneyfied frontier or the Ralphlaurenized range, he takes readers on anintellectual romp through the wilds of the contemporary West, with its UFO fanatics and postregional cowgirls. Emphasizing his call for seeing the West as "a place of roots as well as routes," Johnson's tour de force marks a major contribution to the deeper history of the region and points toward a more sustainable West for the future. It should interest not only Western historians but also art and film buffs, ecocritics, cross-cultural specialists, and rodeo fans--anyone fascinated by the wild, Western-style.

Acknowledgments
Preface: A Conference in Reno
Introduction: A Wilde Wesste
A Brief History of Wild
The Prehuman West
Native Nature
From the 1530s to the 1840s: The West as Waste and Promised Land
Prelude and Overview
Conquistadors and Colonizers: The Spanish Encounter with Unbridled Wilderness
The Antipode of Paradise: William Bradford and the Hatred of Wilderness
Ravage through the Garden: The Wild according to Boone, Lewis and Clark, and Crockett
Mountain Men and Other Explorers: The Vanguard of Western Exploitation
Inventing the Indian: The Noble Savage
Trails and Trials: The Inroads of Commerce
From the 1840s to the 1890s: The West as Frontier
Prelude and Overview
Settlement and Its Discontents
To California Go: The Thar in Them Thar Hills
Reinventing the Indian: The Red Devil
An Animal Holocaust: Wildlife Management in the Old West
In without Knocking: The Cowboy as Wild Man
Romancing the Gun: Outlaws and Man-Killers in Helldorado
(En)closing the Frontier
From the 1890s to the 1960s: The West as Region
Prelude and Overview
Ending the Indian: Civilization (f)or Extinction
Thou Art Lost and Gone Forever: Postfrontier Anxiety and the Recall of the Wild
Long Live the Weeds and the Wilderness Yet: Preserving the West
Wild West Shows, Rodeos, and Dude Ranches: Wildness as Specious Spectacle, Ritual Reenactment, and Tenderfoot Travesty
Dust Bowl: The Great American Desert with a Vengeance
Re-imagining the Wildness: Modern Mediations
Tripping the Light Dialectic: More Modern Mediations
Derricks, Dams, Bombs, and Such: A Walk on the Dark Side of the West
Sprawling into Western Emptiness: The Metropolitan Frontier, Suburban Borderlands, Misbegotten Middle Landscapes
From the 1960s to the Present: The West as Postregion
Prelude and Overview
A Sewer Runs through It
Where the Wild Things Aren't: The Last of the Breed
McWilderness: Disneyfying the Frontier
The Computer in the Cabin: Unsettling the Nouveau West
Wild(e) Style: Ralphlaurenizing the Range
Once in the Saddle I Used to Go Gay: Redoing Rodeo
Las Vegas: Ambiguous Oasis
Weird Weird West: Roswell and Other Landing Sites
The Last Best Craze: Madness in Montana
Little Hassle on the Prairie: The Issue of Wise (Non)use
Beyond John Wayne: Bewildering Westerns and Wild Wild Texts
Way Out Walden: Rewriting Western Nature
The Wild Woman in the Outback: Postregional Cowgirls
The Return of the Native: Reclaiming Identities
Break on Through to the Other Side: The Postmodern Frontier Imperative
Wildfire: A Taste of Authenticity
Hunger for the Wild: Finding a True Western Heritage
Fear and Loathing in Santa Fe: Meatspace or Virtual Reality?
Conclusion: Some New Vision: Resolving the Western Paradox
Notes
Index

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