By Stephen J. May
His novels are legendary: Riders of the Purple Sage, Betty Zane, The Vanishing American, and The U.P. Trail. His characters are unforgettable: Jim Lassiter, Bern Venters, Lew Wetzel, Buck Duane, and Madeline Hammond. His settings are colorful, austere, and filled with romantic mystery. In the early twentieth century, Zane Grey not only defined the cowboy hero and captured the Western landscape, he created one of the most elaborate and memorable bodies of folklore in American literature. Who was the man behind the legend? In Zane Grey: Romancing the West, Stephen J. May examines Grey's personal life, revealing that the writer was frequently immobilized by depression and insecurity. Grey's characters stemmed from an idealized vision of himself. His settings, most often centered in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, were pleasurable, picturesque escapes from the rigors of the writing life. Zane Grey: Romancing the West analyzes the writer's enduring mystique, from Grey's middle-class beginnings as a dentist's son in Zanesville, Ohio, to his mature roles as a world-class novelist, explorer, Hollywood film producer, fisherman, and outdoorsman. Grey's legend continues to enthrall a new generation of readers who are rediscovering the sights, sounds, and wild spaces of the historic American West.