American Cowboy, the Legend

Brody_200-300Why do we love the legendary American cowboy?

Answer: Because he (or she) is who we want to be.

Real cowboys (and cowgirls like Annie Oakley) became romanticized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, because the public admired the qualities they represented. A book by Duncan Emrich entitled Folklore in the American Land lists these common attributes.

  • Individualism
  • Independence
  • Freedom
  • Not given to bragging (I’ll insert “humble” here)
  • Courage
  • Cheerfulness
  • Pride
  • Loyalty
  • True to his word
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Unbeatable

Women readers love a good cowboy tale because a true cowboy esteems women. Emrich points out, “One of the strictest code of the West was to respect women. No other class of men looked upon women with greater reverence.”

So when you see the hunky cowboys on the covers of modern romance novels, remember they represent the real men who embodied an American ideal.

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