Tricksters are known by their deeds. Obviously not all the examples in American Tricksters are full-blown mythological tricksters like Coyote, Raven, or the Two Brothers found in Native American stories, or superhuman figures like the larger-than-life Davy Crockett of nineteenth-century tales. Newer expressions of trickiness do share some qualities with the Trickster archetype seen in myths. Rock stars who break taboos and get away with it, heroes who overcome monstrous circumstances, crafty folk who find a way to survive and thrive when the odds are against them, men making spectacles of themselves by feeding their astounding appetites in public--all have some trickster qualities. Each person, every living creature who ever faced an obstacle and needed to get around it, has found the built-in trickster impulse. Impasses turn the trickster gene on, or stimulate the trick-performing imagination--that's life. To explore the ways and means of trickster maneuvers can alert us to pitfalls, help us appreciate tricks that are entertaining, and aid us in fending off ploys which drain our resources and ruin our lives. Knowing more about the Trickster archetype in our psyches helps us be more self-aware. '""The human psyche's dynamics are intrinsically part trickster': so William Jackson tells us in this delightfully wise study of a classic American archetype. The fruit of his prodigious talents as a scholarly hunter-gatherer with his keen insights as an interpreter, Professor Jackson's latest book is an unparalleled treasure for anyone interested in the American experience and the primordial thought patterns that have shaped it."" --From the foreword by Peter Thuesen ""When you gaze into a mirror, what do you see? Does the trickster wink back? Whether you say yes or no, William Jackson's book will tickle you. Filled with a motley crew of con men, hucksters, coyotes, loons, and ravens, its tall tales and explorations of American attitudes are well crafted and highly entertaining. American Tricksters illustrates how dark edges can lighten your spirit while tweaking your funny bone. But beware! If you open this book, besides baying at the moon, you might never look in the mirror (or see America) the same way again."" --Terry Marks-Tarlow, author of Psyche's Veil William J. Jackson grew up in Rock Island, Illinois, and studied acting at Goodman Theatre School at the Art Institute of Chicago. He earned his PhD in comparative religion at Harvard University. He taught at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for many years and is the author of several books about South Indian culture. He has also written a book about fractal geometry in cultures, Heaven's Fractal Net (2004), and a book about compassion and giving in America, The Wisdom of Generosity (2008), as well as works of fiction.