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Myth and Mending on the Far Side of America

by Betsy Gaines Quammen


True West explores myths of the West and how, if left unexamined, they distort the realities of the present and exacerbate polarizations. These misperceptions about land, politics, liberty, and self-determination threaten the wellbeing of western communities overrun by newcomers seeking a dream—and the country, unless America recognizes the dangers of building a national identity on illusion. Gaines Quammen interrogates it all by listening, carefully, to people from varying political and cultural perspectives as she seeks to reconcile the deep anger and broad misunderstandings that linger amid myths that define and impede the West and America.

October 2023 | Nonfiction | 9781948814911 | pp | $26.95 


“People think they ‘know’ the West but they’re usually wrong. That’s because there’s no region of our country more steeped in fallacy, fake news, and fable. Betsy Gaines Quammen, a wry and wise observer, takes us on a ride across the modern West—and along the way, disentangles reality from centuries of myth and mystique.”

—HAMPTON SIDES, New York Times bestselling author of Blood and Thunder

“At once beautiful, engaging, and disturbing, True West is a revealing mirror to the place us westerners call home.”

—RYAN BUSSE, author of Gunfight

“Betsy Gaines Quammen has an uncanny ability to boldly cross any divide, literal or metaphorical, with grace and an intention to learn and understand.”


“At its heart, True West is a great story about Americans whose identities have been flattened into stereotypes. This book corrects the myths and gives readers a reason to care about the West beyond the tired old caricatures of cowboys.”

—KATHLEEN MCLAUGHLIN, author of Blood Money

“A political and intellectual page-turner.”

—TIM CAHILL, author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh 

“There are few people as savvy as Betsy Gaines Quammen when it comes to comprehending the nuance and contradictions prevalent in this so-called American West.”

—CHRIS LA TRAY, author of One-Sentence Journal



“This book hit many of my soft places and the fluency and gracefulness of Gaines Quammen’s writing kept me turning pages.”

—DON SNOW, founder and editor of Northern Lights Magazine


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BETSY GAINES QUAMMEN is a historian and writer who examines the intersections of extremism, public lands, wildlife, and western communities. She received a PhD in history from Montana State University, her dissertation focusing on Mormon settlement and public land conflicts, and an MS in environmental studies from University of Montana. Betsy is the author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God, and Public Lands in the West. She lives in Bozeman, Montana, with her spouse, David Quammen.

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