The more than fifty authors included are listed according to their birth-dates; and their production, spanning four and a half centuries, is divided into four periods. Work defines each period and shows how selected authors exemplify it. Among those representing the Emergence Period (1540–1832) of explorers and pioneers entering the American West (and a new state of consciousness) are Pedro de Castañeda, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Jedediah Smith, and Walt Whitman. The Mythopoeic Period (1833–1889) is represented by, among others, Helen Hunt Jackson, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Andy Adams, Owen Wister, Black Elk, Luther Standing Bear, Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, and John C. Neihardt. In the Neo-mythic Period (1890–1914), such authors as Thomas Hornsby Ferril, Man Sandoz, Frank Waters, Dorothy Johnson, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Wallace Stegner, Wright Morris, and William Stafford begin revising the old myths of the American West. Finally, in the Neo-western Period (1914 to the present) Edward Abbey, Gary Snyder, James Welch, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and others demonstrate how the land west of the ninety-eighth meridian has shaped the creative consciousness. This admirable anthology, filling a need long felt by readers, shows writers singing about the American West, the land of dreams; then recording great deeds in it; and finally turning to examine their thoughts about it.