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How history becomes mythology


''On May 11, 1880, at Henry Brewer's homestead in the southern San Joaquin Valley district of Mussel Slough, seven men lost their lives during one of the deadliest shootouts in the history of the American West.''


With this statement of fact begins Terry Beers' examination of how history--complex, incomplete, and often contradictory--becomes mythology, written and rewritten until its edges are polished into the ''extraordinarily powerful images that preserve our most cherished values, those which we believe--or want to believe-shape our culture.''


Gunfight at Mussel Slough collects excerpts from five novels--among them Frank Norris' masterpiece The Octopus--and places them alongside historical documents including poems, letters, photographs, maps, flyers, songs, editorials, and political cartoons, each selection recording, analyzing, and interpreting a single event in ways that ultimately change how history will be remembered.

Gunfight at Mussel Slough: Evolution of a Western Myth By Terry Beers

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