In this marvelous collection, David Leeming and Jake Page have gathered together the great myths and legends of America, ranging from the creation stories of the first inhabitants, to the tall-tales of the Western frontier, to the legendary outlaws of the 1920s.
Here is a thoroughly engaging chronicle, a book unrivaled in its scope, embracing Big Foot and Windingo, Hiawatha and Uncle Sam, Paul Revere and Billy the Kid, the Iroquois Flying Head and Elvis. The editors cast their nets widely. Under myths, for instance, Leeming and Page include "the melting pot," "manifest destiny," and Henry Adams's "dynamo." And under "Heroes and Heroines," they have assembled everyone from Honest Abe Lincoln and George Washington, to Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Martin Luther King. For each myth or hero, the editors include an excerpt--often the definitive rendering of the story in question--so that for Moby Dick, we find a passage from Melville's classic, and for Brer Rabbit, the "Tar Baby" tale by Joel Chandler Harris. And along the way, the editors reveal how waves of immigrants, encountering this strange land for the first time, adapted their religion and folklore to help make sense of a new and astounding place. Thus a central Asian god becomes the Great Spirit of Native American myth, and an Aztec goddess is transformed into Our Lady of Guadaloupe.
Ranging from the coyote trickster, to Johnny Appleseed, to John Henry and Stagolee, this wonderful collection illuminates the mythmaking process, and sheds much light on what it means to be American.