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The American West: A New Interpretive History (The Lamar Series in Western History) Paperback – January 11, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0300078350 ISBN-10: 0300078358 Edition: 1ST

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Product Details

  • Series: The Lamar Series in Western History
  • Paperback: 632 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1ST edition (January 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300078358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300078350
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a stirring and enlightening reexamination of the American West, Yale history professor Faragher (Women and Men on the Overland Trail) and Hine (Second Sight), a University of California professor emeritus of history, gauge the impact of key trends and events--the American Revolution, the multiethnic Gold Rush, the 1867 purchase of Russian America (dubbed Alaska, an Aleut word meaning "the big land"), the U.S.-Mexican War, the New Deal, etc.--in shaping the West's socioeconomic development. The American West of legend, brimming with ruggedly individualistic cowboys, intrepid pioneers and gunslingers, scarcely exists in this myth-shattering history. The real West was and continues to be a land of immigrants and of conflicting and melding cultures. "Manifest destiny," the authors maintain, was not a deeply held folk belief: rather, it was the deliberate creation of political propagandists determined to unyoke the policy of westward expansion from the growing sectional controversy over slavery in the 1830s and '40s. As the book moves from the West of the past to the present, the authors show how the region has become the nation's economic, political and cultural pacesetter: Hollywood became the capital of the U.S. "culture industry"; aerospace and defense industries soared; Silicon Valley booted up; Western states absorbed mass migrations from Mexico, Central America and Asia. A substantial revision and update of standard history, this gripping, wonderfully accessible populist saga deserves a place on the shelf alongside the works of Howard Zinn, William Appleman Williams and Ronald Takaki. 233 illus. (many from Yale's treasure-house, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library). (Dec.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Hine is professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Riverside and Irvine; Faragher is a professor of American history at Yale University. Both are distinguished experts in the fields of the westward movement and western regional history. In their superbly written work, they have synthesized the traditional and revisionist approaches to the West. They recognize the importance of successive waves of westward expansion in populating and developing the land. Yet, they also portray the West as a series of regions that were neither empty nor "uncivilized" before the arrival of Europeans and, later, Americans. They describe with insight and compassion the variety of peoples who inhabited these regions; the inevitable conflict with settlers and a government that wavered between contempt and misguided compassion is shown as both tragic and, occasionally, oddly heroic. They have done a masterful job of bringing a sense of fairness and perspective to a region and a saga that remain part of our national mythology. Jay Freeman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 93 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
On its own terms, this book is a huge success.
It synthesizes the past 30 years of serious historical research which revolutionized the presentation of the history of the American West by rescuing the experiences of groups who had been relatively ignored by standard interpretations. Indians, women, blacks, Latinos, Asians, workers are dealt with at length and with sympathy.
The research of anti-capitalist/neo-Marxist, anti-imperialist and pro-environmental historians is summarized and we can see the importance of the challenges they raise to old style historians.
The range of topics is impressive, and the writing is lively and intelligent. (I'd say this is suitable for the college junior/senior level.) The bibliography is amazingly up to date.
The reason why I don't give it a 5 is its lack of balance. At times the authors editorialize crudely--with dismissive judgements ("nonsense") and exclamation points galore to show us when we should boo or hiss.
Less empowered (victim) groups are too often treated as noble, and the majority as vile. This is the Achilles heel of a generation of historians who went into this field with strong orientations and sympathies.
But even more than the distaste for the majority groups, the biggest drawback is the relative lack of attention paid to them. I'm not saying, in an old fashioned way, that they should extol the "achievement" or mindlessly glorify the "Anglos" or capitalists. There is too much solid evidence here that the achievements were not 100% beneficial and that the white males could act and think in apalling ways. But they were the majority actors and this book can too often lose sight of that. At times it feels like the center is missing.
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By Scrapple8 on October 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
'When I am in California,' insisted President Theodore Roosevelt, 'I am not in the West. I am west of the West.' This notion of the West as a relative term, synonymous with the Frontier, is the definition used in the 600-page book ‘The American West: An Interpretive History’ by Robert V. Hine and John Mack Faragher. The authors make a special effort to incorporate and highlight the impact of other cultures such as Indians, Mexicans, and Asians on the American Frontier.

'There we have never failed,' wrote author Emerson Hough about the American West – but it sure seems like we have, after reading this history of the West. 'There we were efficient,' wrote Hough, a conclusion that is directly contradicted by the authors of this book. 'Not statesman but riflemen and riders made America,' wrote Hough, but in this book, those that conquered the West were rapacious capitalists, not the frontiersmen glorified in the Dime novels.

Sometimes one wonders if the new, interpretive authors of history want to make Americans angry and upset about their history. What's done is done; we're not the ones who did it, and we've already done much to rectify many past injustices. It's time to move on. One can still learn plenty from the authors despite harboring philosophical differences with the conclusions that they draw.

The authors offered another way of looking at the frontier by stretching the scope of the book. The first one hundred pages covers the Spanish, French, and British settlements in the New World. For these Europeans, early American settlements were the west, despite being located predominantly on the east coast of North America.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Messer on April 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can see why this book was so acclaimed upon its publication. It continued a relatively recent trend in historiography to revise the historical narrative to include oft-excluded groups, now re-imagined as heroic victims of American aggression. There is indeed much truth to this reading of history, yet what is lost in this historical paradigm shifting is much nuance and actual fact. The authors attempt to write history for all groups with a disregard for the geopolitical realities of the time. Facts and events are simplified to the point of ludicrousness all in an attempt to ostensibly right historical wrongs. That said, the book includes many excellent graphics and reads fairly well, but there are much better books out there on the American West.
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15 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This new interpretive history of the American west is recommended reading for college-level students of American history. Drawings, posters, photos and illustrations pepper what remains a panoramic view of history and characters which succeeds in documenting some of the major trends and personalities of the West. Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Crystal S. on September 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
Great Thanks!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By History_Teacher on May 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Again, one of the many bibles required for studying the history of the American West. I love this book! It is an in-depth study of the western development.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Pennington on February 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My book came to me exactly as described, just in time to start spring term this year. Excellent read for the history fans out there.
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