1939’s “Stagecoach”: The Reign of Justice and Redemption

By |2020-03-13T17:39:48-05:00March 13th, 2020|Categories: American West, Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, Film, Morality, Senior Contributors|

In 1939, John Ford released Stagecoach, a learned and perceptive cinematic work of art that not only introduced John Wayne as a major player in Hollywood but one that also made the western something more than a mere backdrop for pulp-ish adventure stories. Indeed, the movie shows that the western can serve as the [...]

A Country for Old Men: Bruce Springsteen’s “Western Stars”

By |2020-02-26T02:16:47-06:00June 19th, 2019|Categories: American West, Bruce Springsteen, Music, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

The old men who narrate the songs of Bruce Springsteen's cinematic "Western Stars" are broken, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Seeking a land of sunshine, open roads, and new beginnings, they find that the fabled American West cannot provide salvation for the lost and lonely. But "Western Stars" will surely provide balm for the soul. Western Stars, [...]

“Hell or High Water”: Robin Hood in West Texas

By |2019-03-30T10:24:08-05:00March 29th, 2019|Categories: American West, Culture, Dwight Longenecker, Film, Morality|

What interests me about Hell or High Water are the moral dilemmas. In addition to its being a smart heist movie and an up-to-date Western, it is also a Robin Hood story. The main characters might be robbing banks illegally but they’re stealing from the bankers who first robbed their family legally. The 2016 [...]

Tether to the Past: Willa Cather’s “Song of the Lark”

By |2018-11-15T23:33:46-06:00November 15th, 2018|Categories: American West, Art, Beauty, Books, Christine Norvell, Imagination|

Though land and setting seem rarely featured in Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark, they do comprise an unusual role, one that grows towards the past instead of the future. Cather expresses a sentimentality and longing for the old ways because it somehow grounds her central character Thea Kronborg. For Thea, the desert town [...]

An Alternative to Removal: The Case of the Miami Indians

By |2020-05-26T15:40:53-05:00October 2nd, 2018|Categories: American West, Bradley J. Birzer, Government, History|

In the early nineteenth century, Americans assumed that the Indians would fall in line with the United States, recognizing the young republic as the indisputable new Great Father. But the title, they quickly found out, had to be earned. In 1818, Indian Commissioner Benjamin Parke attempted to treat with the Miamis, Weas, and Delawares but [...]

What Andrew Jackson’s Critics Get Wrong

By |2018-09-24T23:31:52-05:00September 24th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, American West, Bradley J. Birzer, In Defense of Andrew Jackson Series by Bradley Birzer, Presidency|

Like all human beings, Andrew Jackson certainly had his faults—sometimes spectacular, brutal, and violent ones—but is it just to label him, as one recent critic has, simply as "a slaver, ethnic cleanser, and tyrant"? Sometime in the last several years, it has become the cultural norm to see President Andrew Jackson as the sum of [...]

Photographing the Lost World of Rural America

By |2019-10-03T14:58:10-05:00July 4th, 2018|Categories: American West, Civilization, Culture, Economics, Journalism|

Today America is on its third economic upswing, even as the places I visit have continued to fade away… For 23 years I have been driving country roads, photographing the ruins of rural America for a documentary I call “Lost Americana.” As population decline claims town after town, I have been talking to those [...]

Andrew Jackson’s Duel with John Sevier

By |2017-07-18T22:10:46-05:00July 18th, 2017|Categories: American West, Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, History, Senior Contributors|

To the men of Andrew Jackson’s era, the following or breaking of the rules of dueling signified much about one’s own character and what one thought of his opponent’s character. Once the two men agreed to having been satisfied in the duel, a strong friendship might resume… From the very origins of colonial America, [...]

De-Christianizing America

By |2015-06-03T20:35:08-05:00June 3rd, 2015|Categories: American West, Christianity|

“This is a Christian nation,” said the Supreme Court in 1892. “America was born a Christian nation,” echoed Woodrow Wilson. Harry Truman affirmed it: “This is a Christian nation.” But in 2009, Barack Hussein Obama begged to differ: “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” Comes now a Pew Research Center survey that [...]

Will the Real America Please Stand Up?

By |2015-01-07T13:51:21-06:00October 30th, 2013|Categories: American West, Bradley J. Birzer|

This past summer, I had the high privilege of traveling into the great American West several times. Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Frankly, there’s nothing quite like massive, wide-open skies, seemingly endless seas of grass, groves of aspens and firs, and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains to make my soul sing. Since earliest childhood, [...]

American Flags, Ideology and the King’s Curse

By |2013-12-11T10:22:51-06:00October 11th, 2013|Categories: American West, Culture, Immigration, Myth, Stephen Masty|

In Monty Python’s comic diner skit every dish came with Spam, either a little or a lot. Is America the same with ideology? Does Ideological America touch everything and corrupt everything it touches, and can it turn back? Or, in the words of President Obama’s periodic, and oftentimes unpleasant, Chicago preacher, have “the chickens [...]