The Old West has had a powerful impact on the concept of gentlemanly masculinity among Americans. To behave like a gentleman may mean little or much. To spend large sums of money like a gentleman may be of no great praise, but to conduct oneself like a gentleman implies a high standard even for those without financial means.
For almost two centuries, the frontiersman has been a standard of rugged individualism and stoic bravery for the American male. Provider, protector, counselor, and knight errant to the weak or helpless, men on the frontier stood apart. Newspapers, dime novels, and Wild West shows helped to form the popular view of Old West masculinity in the later 19th century. Novels and short stories served this purpose in the first half of the 20th century, but it was films and TV that cemented the image of the Old West that most post-WWII Baby Boomers have today. The study of film and other media representations has been a particularly energetic field for masculinity research.
However, western films are not so much about the West as they are about the Westerner. He stands alone, heroic, powerful, and seeking justice and order. The Westerner is the "last gentleman" and Westerns are "probably the last art form in which the concept of honor retains its strength." Directors and screenwriters, ultimately having overcome the simplistic shoot-em-up, used the genre to explore the pressing subjects of their day like racism, nationalism, capitalism, family, and honor, issues more deeply meshed with the concept of manliness than simply wearing a gun belt and Stetson hat.
Fear not, Old West purists! For those traditionalists among you, this audiobook is filled with authentic designs, facts, weapons, and tales from the mid-1800s to the turn of the century and slightly beyond. Here are some of the roots of the most popular holsters, fashions, weapons, cartridges, and myths preferred by collectors, reenactors, and cowboy action enthusiasts.
©2016 James M. Volo (P)2017 James M. Volo