Two-Buck Chuck & The Marlboro Man: The New Old West

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This eclectic, wide-ranging collection of essays on the diverse population and colorful history of California’s San Joaquin Valley was evidently a labor of love for its author, who deploys a skilled raconteur’s charm in conveying details of the fertile place where he grew up. The Introduction’s pithy summary of how the mythology of the “Old West” both collides with and overlaps with the realities of the “New West” is compelling and rich in possibilities, but its claim that somehow “America’s True West” is manifested in the oral histories the book records is hard to substantiate or evaluate, and sometimes seems like yet more mythmaking.

The key chapters on Frank Franzia (the brash, cunning creator of the wildly successful Charles Shaw aka “Two-Buck Chuck” wines) and Darrell Winfield (the cowboy model for the icon but infamous “Marlboro Man” cigarette ads) work hard to live up to the top billing they get in the book’s title, but go on rather too long for most readers’ attention spans. A more sustained political or analytical framework would perhaps justify the author’s personal fascination with such characters to an academic audience, but the book is evidently not intended as a pointed cultural critique.


Reviewed By:

Author Frank Bergon
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 264 pages
Publisher University of Nevada Press
Publish Date 2019-03-03
ISBN 9781683317593
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2019
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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