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Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860 (History of the American West) Hardcover – July 1, 2011
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“The nuanced and complex narrative contextualizes the experiences of individuals, families, and communities. . . . Taking a unique approach that emphasizes the importance of family networks and integrating a newer generation of scholarship to explain the social and cultural dynamics of the West, Hyde has produced a substantial and highly original interpretation of the period [1800–61]. . . . An excellent work and a major contribution to the historiography of the North American West.”—John Husmann, South Dakota History (John Husman South Dakota History 2013-06-21)
From the Back Cover
Winner of the 2012 Bancroft Prize
The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 doubled the size of the new United States, promising not only land but prosperity for its citizens. But the West was not the virgin wilderness of common myth. Rather, as historian Anne F. Hyde makes clear in her groundbreaking, prizewinning history, America was a newcomer in a place already complicated by vying empires–native and European. Here, for the first time, she traces the network of multiethnic family associations, which, along with the river systems of the trans-Mississippi West, had formed the basis for the global fur trade for centuries. Involved with this trade were trappers, hunters, merchants, bankers, and politicians by the thousands. Dazzling in its breadth and startling in its intimacy, Empires, Nations, and Families provides a new look at Native nations and the economies and societies they built as well as a radically new understanding of the web of families, businesses, and personal empires that organized the North American West before the Civil War and the rise of the American empire.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The content of this book represents history at its very best, rooted in primary documents and artifacts, imaginative and multi-disciplinary in its interpretations. The writing, though, is often circular, repetitive, and confusing, and thus any potential reader needs to be ready to tolerant. An experienced editor could have made an enormous difference, and won for this book the popular audience it so deserves. But I still urge everyone who knows only a little about the history of the west to read it: you will look at America in a very different light by the time you reach the last pages.
Ignore the ridiculous assertions of the first reviewer, "R.F.W." This book deserves all the accolades it is receiving.
The author follows several families, especially the Bent family, through the half-century to illustrate her thesis. The role of intermarriage in white-Indian relations has, of course, been well-documented and there is nothing new in the thesis itself. Still, this book sensitively explores how this worked and how, when it ceased to work, things quickly fell apart.
The book has drawbacks. It is decently written but since it hops from locate to locale and from family to family it can seem very disjointed. The book also is a little heavy-handed in its pro-Indian sentiment, a failing of virtually all scholarly literature on this topic for a generation now. To cite just one example, the Indian raids that made life a hell for harmless Mexican settlers in New Mexico -- men and women whose ancestors settled the land before certain tribes arrived at the same locale -- are mentioned but glossed over. On the other hand, every act of bad faith or incompetence on the part of the "Euro-Americans" is lovingly retailed. The historiography can only improve when this political correctness finally bleaches out.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The detailed information written in this book is exactly what I would expect from a college level teacher. I am thoroughly engrossed with this book....:}Published on March 21, 2013 by Lewis L. Law