The westward expansion of America was untamed, uncivilized, and lawless. Yet there were unwritten rules in the “wild west” that were sometimes as strict as any actual law. Zane Grey’s 1934 book The Code of the West was about an Eastern transplant who unknowingly violates “the code” in just about every way possible. There are many variations – from Gene Autry’s “Cowboy Code” to today’s business Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership. The creed of The Cowboy has been handed down, codified, and endlessly discussed.
Athough we are past The National Day of the Cowboy (always celebrated on the 4th Saturday in July), you can celebrate cowboy fiction anytime. There are “westerns” for every taste, whether you are looking for historical accuracy, love stories, modern-day cowboys, or genre-mashups, you can find your western.
Need help finding a western for yourself? Try these fiction lists on for size:
Don’t Squat With Your Spurs on – “Weird Westerns” genre-mashup
Too Much Tumbleweed in Their Blood to Settle Down – contemporary fiction with classic western themes, settings, or characters
He’s a Cowboy, Ain’t He? – western romance: historical, contemporary, and more
Always Drink Upstream From the Herd – cowboy fiction from the pages of history
Go Where There is no Path and Leave a Trail – fiction with classic “old west” themes