“But when the Western gave up its promise of empty entertainment, it finally could achieve its true destiny. The cowboy story could now take its place as the authentic American epic, raw and unapologetic. When writers gave up the pulp formulas that had charmed readers during the first three-quarters of the 20th century, a new honesty and complexity could emerge in their works. Only after we stopped assigning roles on the basis of white hats and black hats could we come to grips with what was really wild in the Wild West.”

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