The storybook version of the American West, brought to us by Hollywood and TV, assumes a conflict of two opposing forces: cowboys against Indians, say, or cattle barons against small farmers. The real history of the West involves the conflict--but also the union--of many forces and peoples. This was true during the Spanish colonization of New Mexico, the Mormon arrival in Utah, and, after World War II, the transformation of California from backwater into cutting-edge region. The cycle persists today, as the West continues to grow in population and political influence. In The Oxford History of the American West 28 professional historians gather to analyze the West's history; the result of their work is an important reference.
From School Library Journal
YA-This fascinating title, composed of 23 essays by college professors, offers much to scholars/researchers. Beginning with prehistory and moving along the time line to today, the book deals with not only the expected topics of exploration, settlement, Indian displacement, cowboys and badmen, but also with harder-to-find topics such as the role of religion and early agricultural practices. The editors then bridge frontier history and post-1890 history with discussions of resource extraction, railroads, growth of cities, political movements, and the role of the federal government. The last section treats various contemporary outgrowths of the western myth (Hollywood, western art and literature, recent ethnic and racial unrest). As might be expected in a book that is almost as big as the land it's about, the quality of the essays varies. A few seem to have been run up by a committee and are fragmentary and confusing; others condense too much, but most are organized, lucid, and lively. While the book will be most useful as a research tool, some readers will be drawn by the generally good writing into wanting to know more about a given aspect of the West. A fine single source for research on the historical and contemporary West as myth, as an attitude, as a place, and as a culture. The essays are enhanced by many reproductions and some full-color art plates.
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Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.