As real cowboy life waned in the American West at the end of the nineteenth century, the mythology of the Wild West took over - in books, songs and Hollywood films. Today, the word 'cowboy' conjures up images of steely-eyed gunslingers, loyal steeds, and campfire melodies but as this book shows, the 'real' Wild West was far from the mythic landscapes created by the American movie industry. This sumptuously illustrated book traces the emergence of the romantic myth of the cowboy from dime novels, the silent Tom Mix films and early matinee idols such as Roy Rogers, to the TV cowboys of the 1950s, John Ford's mythic landscapes of Monument Valley and Hollywood's efforts at representing the 'true' West in films such as 'Dances with Wolves'. It contains a whole chapter devoted to cowboy costume, from the Stetson and flowing neckerchief to the lavishly embroidered and fringed shirts beloved of movie cowboys and country singers. Meticulously researched and powerfully written, this authoritative book shatters the legend and celebrates the genuine frontier pioneers.