The Great Frontier

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Overview

First published in 1951, The Great Frontier has become one of the undisputed classics of Western history, its conclusions still hotly debated by scholars but nonetheless essential and engrossing reading for anyone who wishes to understand the history and significance of this vast and often puzzling region.

The final work of pioneer Western historian Walter Prescott Webb, The Great Frontier represents a daring attempt to interpret the settlement of the American West in the global context of the expansion of European civilization between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries. According to Webb's "boom hypothesis," the expansion of Europe's "Great Frontier" into the Western Hemisphere energized a static society and made possible the development of such fundamental institutions of the modern era as individualism, capitalism, and political democracy. Webb contends that the closing of the global frontier at the end of the nineteenth century, with the end of easily available empty land and readily exploited natural resources, was responsible for the crises and violence of the twentieth century and boded ill for the future of the United States's treasured democracy.

An insightful new introduction by Western historian William D. Rowley sets Webb's masterwork into the context of its own time and outlines the relevance of this still-controversial work for twenty-first-century readers.

Walter Prescott Webb (1888-1963) wrote or edited more than twenty books including The Great Plains, Divided We Stand, and The Texas Rangers. He taught at the University of Texas, the University of London, and at Oxford University. Although Webb's work sparked controversy and sharp criticism, it inspired new thinking about the role of regionalism in the nation's history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874175196
  • Publisher: University of Nevada Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

New Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Ch. 1 The Frontier Factor in Modern History 1
Ch. 2 The Emergence of the Individual 29
Ch. 3 The Recrystallization of Society 63
Ch. 4 The Parabola of Individualism 103
Ch. 5 The Genesis of Modern Dynamism 140
Ch. 6 Frontier Windfalls and Modern Capitalism 180
Ch. 7 Three Unwise Bubbles 203
Ch. 8 The Frontier as a Modifier of Institutions 239
Ch. 9 The Fallacy of New Frontiers 280
Ch. 10 What the Frontier Touched: The Sciences 303
Ch. 11 What the Frontier Touched: Law, Government, and Economics 320
Ch. 12 What the Frontier Touched: Literature, Art, Education, and History 348
Ch. 13 Conclusion 413
Bibliography 419
Index 427
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