The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890

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In The Fatal Environment, Richard Slotkin demonstrates how the myth of frontier expansion and subjugation of the Indians helped to justify the course of America’s rise to wealth and power. Using Custer’s Last Stand as a metaphor for what Americans feared might happen if the frontier should be closed and the "savage" element be permitted to dominate the "civilized," Slotkin shows the emergence by 1890 of a myth redefined to help Americans respond to the confusion and strife of industrialization and imperial expansion.

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Editorial Reviews

<:st> Reprint of the Athenaeum original of 1985 (which is cited in ). Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
**** Reprint of the Atheneum original of 1985, which is included in BCL3. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806130309
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 996,839
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Slotkin is Olin Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of Frontier in Twentieth-Century America, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperhack Edition
Pt. I Myth Is the Language of Historical Memory 1
Ch. 1 Exposition: The Frontier as Myth and Ideology 3
Ch. 2 Myth and Historical Memory 13
Ch. 3 The Frontier Myth as a Theory of Development 33
Pt. II The Language of the Frontier Myth 49
Ch. 4 Regeneration Through Violence: History as an Indian War, 1675-1820 51
Ch. 5 Ideology and Fiction: The Role of Cooper 81
Pt. III Metropolis vs. Frontier 107
Ch. 6 The Backwash of a Closing Frontier: Industrialization and the Hiatus of Expansion, 1820-1845 109
Ch. 7 Utopia/Dystopia: Plantation, Factory, and City, 1820-1845 138
Pt. IV Myth of a New Frontier: Renewal and Breakdown, 1845-1850 159
Ch. 8 A Choice of Frontiers: Texas, Mexico, and the Far West, 1835-1850 161
Ch. 9 The Myth That Wasn't: Literary Responses to the Mexican War, 1847-1850 191
Pt. V The Railroad Frontier, 1850-1860 209
Ch. 10 Prophecy of the Iron Horse 211
Ch. 11 The Ideology of Race Conflict, 1848-1858 227
Ch. 12 The Inversion of the Frontier Hero: William Walker and John Brown, 1855-1860 242
Pt. VI Toward the Last Frontier, 1860-1876 279
Ch. 13 Regimentation and Reconstruction: The Emergence of a Managerial Ideology, 1860-1873 281
Ch. 14 The Reconstruction of Class and Racial Symbolism, 1865-1876 301
Ch. 15 The New El Dorado, 1874 325
Pt. VII The Boy General, 1839-1876 371
Ch. 16 West Point, Wall Street, and the Wild West, 1839-1868 373
Ch. 17 The Boy General Returns; or, Custer's Revenge, 1868-1876 398
Pt. VIII The Last Stand as Ideological Object, 1876-1890 433
Ch. 18 To the Last Man: Assembling the Last Stand Myth, 1876 435
Ch. 19 The Indian War Comes Home: The Great Strike of 1877 477
Ch. 20 Morgan's Last Stand: Literary Mythology and the Specter of Revolution, 1876-1890 499
Notes 533
Bibliography 597
Index 619
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