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Once they had settled the eastern seaboard, the founding fathers of the great North American continent encouraged others to follow them to the land of opportunity. So the refugees, the poor and the oppressed, the adventurous and the foolhardy packed their all, they left the old-world shadows and set out with their hopes and dreams. Millions headed West to realise those dreams in a vast land that stretched from the wide open spaces of Texas to the frozen wastes of the Yukon, and their courage, endurance and tenacity, their hardships, disasters and triumphs became an inexhaustible source of inspiration for writers, artists and moviemakers. Here is a taste, from some of the greatest classic writers, of the compelling body of literature that immortalised ranchers and cowpunchers, trappers and prospectors, gamblers and lawmen - a whole gallery of pioneering heroes and villains on horseback and in waggons and stagecoaches, in romanticising the white mans conquest of the Indian territories and his attempts to tame the untracked wilderness beyond.