Go West Young Man, Go West!

Go West Young Man, Go West!

By Rory C. Keel

“Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men where ever he goes.” – Outlaw Josey Wales

The Western genre is defined by a specific time and place. Most are set west of the Missouri River from Mexico to the south and as far as Alaska to the north. The stories flourish with greenhorns, gringos and cattle driving cowboys. Usually set between about 1800 and 1890, the rugged hero or heroine always endures through any adversity.

Some of the most popular authors include Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Elmer Kelton.

 Western Subgenres include:

Black Cowboy (buffalo soldier) and Civil War westerns.  Bounty Hunter stories of men chasing outlaws, and Cattle Drive westerns which are set during a frontier cattle drive, such as Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Cowpunk, these tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier with slight sci-fi slant. Eurowestern, Gunfighter, Indian wars such as James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Land Rush stories usually focus on the Oklahoma land rush. Lawmen (Texas Rangers) are about the honest lawmen who brought order and justice to the wild frontier. Mexican wars (Texan independence), Outlaw westerns, and yes, most of them wear black hats.

Railroad stories connect the east with the west and Range wars are stories where ranchers are pitted against the farmer. Romance is an overlapping subgenre, which features romance relationships in a ‘western’ novel. An excellent example of romance western is the anthology Give me a Texas Ranger by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace.

Wagon Train westerns tell the historical stories of the pioneers’ struggles on their transcontinental journey on the Oregon Trail.

Just remember “Every gun makes its own tune.” – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Rory C. Keel

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