Italian Westerns: The Essential Films (Stephen Hoover)

I bought this off Amazon, since I’d seen Tom Betts mention it on his blog and I HAVE to have every damn SW book that comes out. It’s a trade paperback, just shy of 200 pages, with a few photos, and a pricetag of less than $15.

I found it pretty dull going, not very well-written, lots of typos and errors (character name switches), lots of repeated phrases, and very very little actual depth or insight. It covers 21 films in detail, but only 15 of those are spaghetti westerns; the others are titles the author feels were directly inspired by spaghettis: The Wild Bunch, Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider, Unforgiven, Dead Man, and Django Unchained. Of the 15 spaghettis, the Dollars trilogy are included, along with important films like Once Upon a Time in the West, The Great Silence, Death Rides a Horse, Django, and Navajo Joe, but others, like The Big Gundown, The Mercenary, and Companeros, are relegated to very very brief recommendations at the end. What made those omissions even more questionable was the inclusion of a full chapter on The Gatling Gun, which the author criticizes virtually every aspect of even though he singles it out in preference to The Big Gundown.

Also notable is an early section on a dozen key SW actors. Marianne Koch gets an entry, but Franco Nero doesn’t. Nor do Tomas Milian, Gianni Garko, George Hilton, Fernando Sancho, William Berger, etc.

I hate to pan a book by someone who seems to be a genuine SW fan, but I was very disappointed by this one. I’d say skip it, unless you’re a rabid collector.

Is Stephen Hoover’s book really that bad? Second opinions?