Into the West: From Reconstruction to the Final Days of the American Frontier

Overview

From Pulitzer Prize award-winning historian James M. McPherson comes a thrilling account of America's westward expansion. In this sweeping tale of one of the most exciting and colorful periods in our country's growth, Dr. McPherson interweaves the nation's attempts to bind its Civil War wounds through Reconstruction with the triumphant and tragic taming of the American frontier.

Into the West contains personal narratives from settlers and soldiers as well as profiles and ...

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Overview

From Pulitzer Prize award-winning historian James M. McPherson comes a thrilling account of America's westward expansion. In this sweeping tale of one of the most exciting and colorful periods in our country's growth, Dr. McPherson interweaves the nation's attempts to bind its Civil War wounds through Reconstruction with the triumphant and tragic taming of the American frontier.

Into the West contains personal narratives from settlers and soldiers as well as profiles and accounts of the actions of many historical luminaries involved in Reconstruction and the movement west, such as President Andrew Johnson, General George Armstrong Custer, Sitting Bull, General William Tecumseh Sherman, Geronimo, and Wild Bill Hickock. Dr. McPherson also explores the role of women and the development of the arts on the frontier, the role and legend of the cowboy, and the destruction of the Native American way of life in this thought-provoking companion to the bestselling Fields of Fury.

Filled with maps, period photos, illustrations, and anecdotes, this vivid retelling of America's journey, Into the West, will fascinate readers, young and old.


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Editorial Reviews

Robert Sullivan
Something else they don't tell you in school is that life can be a lot like a textbook. It's a slog mostly, and it's tough to tell the difference between what's important and what's the Warren G. Harding administration. Currently, the teaching of the past for people in the middle school years relies heavily on the use of terms like "Shays' Rebellion" and "checks and balances," terms you memorize and explain. It's history as checklist—which is what makes James M. McPherson's Into the West seem so brilliantly serene, with slow considerations of an era of American history that is as important as it is overlooked…Like good newspaper stories, McPherson's chapters convey big ideas with the details of people's lives, national trends with local notes.
—The New York Times
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Thirty-nine distinct topics are each presented in a page or two of succinct text that sets the topic in its historical context. Clear in his points with enough detail to give the reader a comprehensible overview of the topic, McPherson never gets bogged down in overwhelming details. From the Homestead Act, passed in 1863; to the Civil War Amendments which ended slavery, recognized racial equality and gave African-American males the right to vote; to the construction of the transcontinental railroad; to cattle drives; to Indian Wars; to life on the frontier for women; to "The Wild West in Popular Culture" and those famous outlaws, the reader will be captivated by the events of the past. Archival photos of the famous and the notorious, a map of the cattle drive highways, and paintings from the era also add a great deal of information, including how people dressed, what the countryside looked like, and homes on the prairie. The settlement of the frontier is an important component of American history, and understanding the events help us understand where we are today as a nation which make this book a good choice to read at the end of a history unit to summarize the important people and events. McPherson makes it interesting, and the short sections make it easy to digest. History buffs will certainly enjoy this title, and it just might create some new American history buffs as well.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Although this book's title and cover art suggest that its sole focus is the post-Civil War movement into the West, McPherson discusses events that happened during the conflict as well as after. The book is divided into 39 chapters, most consisting of a single-page essay about a topic, paired with an attractive, full-page period illustration or photo, some of which are in color. Each page of text also has a related "Quick Facts" sidebar. Many early sections discuss the upheavals and difficulties of Reconstruction, including the debate over presidential versus congressional reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Later chapters cover the Homestead Act, cattle drives, outlaws, and the forced removal of Native American tribes. McPherson writes objectively and well, and students will find the heavily illustrated format attractive. However, the book covers so many topics that there is little room for general background or detailed analysis. Liz Sonneborn's The American West (Scholastic, 2002) covers much of the same material in more depth in a more heavily illustrated format. A supplemental purchase for most collections.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Following his Fields of Fury: The American Civil War (2002), McPherson continues the story of what the Civil War meant for America's future and how the U.S. was to be reconstructed. It's a dramatic saga indeed, with sections on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the hanging of four conspirators, the first transcontinental railroad, the Ku Klux Klan, cowboys, Indian wars, Ghost Dances and the end of the frontier. Written by the premier historian of the American Civil War, this is another fine installment in a superb series on important periods of American history. Each brief essay on a key topic includes a sidebar of "Quick Facts" and a full-page photograph, painting or other illustration. Smaller illustrations are sprinkled throughout, and the writing is clear, lively and concise. Maps, a timeline, a glossary and websites all contribute to a thoroughly engaging format. The bibliography would be better if some of the fine works on the subject for younger readers were included, but overall, a superb volume that makes history come alive. (introduction, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689865435
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/10/2006
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 9 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

James M. McPherson
Initially moved to study the history of the South as a way of understanding the civil rights movement, James M. McPherson has become the preeminent expert on the Civil War and Reconstruction. His award-winning work provides detail, context and a modern perspective on one of America's most important historical periods.
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    1. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 11, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Valley City, North Dakota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN) 1958; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1963

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