Law and (Dis)Order: The Janus-Faced Myth of the Lawman in U.S. History and Popular Culture



A dusty street in a shabby mining town on the edge of western settlement. A sudden gust swings open the screeching doors of the nearby saloon, creating an eerie overture for the ensuing confrontation. Two silhouettes peel themselves from the shadows of the porches and take their positions in the middle of the street to the metallic rhythm of their silver spurs. One dueler looks sinister with his stained shirt and tattered trousers, a seamy holster carelessly slung around his hips. Sweat meanders down the stubby cheeks of his weathered face and has already formed crescent spots under his armpits. His opponent, however, seems unaffected by either sun or fear. His spotless attire looks like an externalization of his character, a notion which is further underscored by the gleaming silvery star on his chest. Both share a long, hard, and lidless stare, the expression on their faces as relentless as the scorching heat. A tumbleweed rolls from one side of the street to the other, ignorant of the climactic showdown about to take place. One last nervous twitching of the eyelid as well as the index finger as it hesitatingly approaches the trigger. The two men almost simultaneously draw their guns, two shots ring out — silence. Only one remains standing upright, the other has crumbled into a lifeless pile, the sand around him thickening and darkening with blood which plentifully effuses from a sizeable hole in his stained shirt.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Doktorand am Institut für Amerikastudien, American Corner InnsbruckUniversität InnsbruckAustria

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