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Frederick Jackson Turner: Strange Roads Going Down Hardcover – April, 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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From Kirkus Reviews

A biography of Turner, whose famous thesis, ``The Significance of the Frontier in American History,'' is known to generations of American history students. Bogue, emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, offers a comprehensive study of Turner, who was born in 1862 in Wisconsin farm country and eventually came to influence countless students who were specializing in the then emergent fields of Western and sectional history. According to Bogue, Turner was a rare and innovative scholar, as well as a popular teacher who devoted many of his hours to eager acolytes and students, despite the demands of his own prodigious research. His protgs remembered him not only as a teacher, but as a companion in the process of discovering history. Turner believed that historians should always strive for broad objective truth even while they were necessarily subject to shaping by their own prejudicial experiences within a specific culture, era, and geography. Bogue argues that Turner, who formed and developed schools of Western history at Wisconsin and Harvard, is comparable only to the great Francis Parkman and Henry Adams as a major eminence in American historiography. Also noted here is the fact that Turner believed the growing concentration of control of natural resources and industry by the government made American political discontent inevitable, compromising and tampering with the celebrated tradition of American individualism that had long been especially characteristic of the West. Later, Turner's many family and social obligations, professional pressures, and poor health delayed the writing of his final ``big book.'' Bogue reveals that the historians who were his heirs believed that his frontier theory was overshadowed by other factors that were not given sufficient attention. Nevertheless, Turner's legacy lives on. A scholarly achievement, thick with details. (16 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; First Edition edition (April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806130393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806130392
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,610,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on December 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Frederick Jackson Turner was a giant as an interpreter of the history of the United States, and this biography is an important analysis of his life and career written by a senior scholar in the history of the American West. He is the author of the "Frontier Thesis," a seminal theme through much of the twentieth century in explaining the exceptionalism of the United States. Turner's 1893 "Frontier Thesis" paper is perhaps the most influential essay ever read at the American Historical Association's annual conference. Turner took as his cue an observation in the 1890 U.S. census that the American frontier had, for the first time, closed. He noted, "Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development." He insisted that the frontier made Americans American, gave the nation its democratic character, and ensured the virtues of self-reliance, community, and the promise of justice. He noted that cheap or even free land provided a "safety valve" that protected the nation against uprisings of the poverty-stricken and malcontented. The frontier also produced a people with "coarseness and strength...acuteness and inquisitiveness, that practical and inventive turn of mind . . . [full of] restless and nervous energy...that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom." It gave the people of the United States, in essence, virtually every positive quality they have ever possessed.

The "Frontier Thesis" has enjoyed both eloquent critics and defenders over the years and Allan Bogue's biography of Turner placed the famous theory front and center in his life.
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Format: Hardcover
"Strange Roads Going Down" a biography and analysis of Frederick Jackson Turner, is a fundamental part of anyone's library interested in 19th century American History. Although Turner wrote from the perspective of a 19th century man, he is generally very accurate and gives historians a point of view that was immediate and active. This is an interesting counterpoint to modern historians who, by necessity are looking back in time, not at the time itself. The biography is well written and handles Turner's work effectively.
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