Into the West: The Story of Its People

Into the West: The Story of Its People

4.6 20
by Walter Nugent
     
 

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Acclaimed historian Walter Nugent brings us what is perhaps the most comprehensive and fascinating account to date of the peopling of the American West. In this epic social-demographic history, Nugent explores the populations of the West as they grow, change and intersect from the Paleo-Indians, the Spanish Conquistadors, to displaced Okies, wartime African American

Overview

Acclaimed historian Walter Nugent brings us what is perhaps the most comprehensive and fascinating account to date of the peopling of the American West. In this epic social-demographic history, Nugent explores the populations of the West as they grow, change and intersect from the Paleo-Indians, the Spanish Conquistadors, to displaced Okies, wartime African American immigrants, and all the disparate groups that have made California the most ethnically diverse state in the union.

Their tale, in all its complexity, is a tale that surprises, that subverts traditional stereotypes and that illuminates the multifaceted character of one of the world’s most unique and dynamic territories.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
A light touch and attention to people of all racial and cultural groups characterize this detail-filled, thoroughly researched account of the American West. Nugent begins with a chapter-long exploration of the concept of "the west" as different groups have held it in various places and times, and how the ideas came to be. He follows with a long chapter called "From Time Immemorial to 1848," which this reviewer found especially engaging. He then moves chronologically from the time of the earliest white settlers (the Gold Rush, the Mormon trek, the opening of California) to the settlement of the Great Plains by farmers and miners, to battles with Mexico, to the cultural and physical displacements triggered by the Dust Bowl, to the effects of the two world wars, and to the last half of the 20th century, where he sees the effects of Watts, the baby boom, and the growth of the western coastal cities. He notes the thinning of the plains population and the flourishing of Silicon Valley. He ends with a chapter on current trends and "Some Post-Millennial Projections." Nugent's attention to minorities sets this history apart from most histories of the West. He has taught history at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University and has lived in a number of European countries and in Israel. Excellent reading for history teachers. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Random House, Vintage, 493p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. 21cm. 99-18957., $16.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Edna M. Boardman; Minot, ND , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
Booknews
Paleo-Indians, Spanish conquistadors and settlers, gold rushers, and aspiring movie stars and computer moguls are among the people Nugent (history, U. of Notre Dame) profiles in his historic sweep of the US west. He explains such matters as how California became the most urban, most populous, and most ethnically diverse state in the country; why African Americans in the early 1900s thought Oakland and Denver more tolerant than San Francisco or Los Angeles; and what happened to the second generation of Mormons after the big migrations of the 1840s. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
“Essential reading…. A big, sprawling book about a big, sprawling place…. In notable ways, it departs from earlier versions of ‘How the West was won’.”–The Los Angeles Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307426420
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/18/2007
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
544
File size:
8 MB

Read an Excerpt




Several fault lines distinguish people's ideas about the West. One separates those wedded to the victory narratives of Buffalo Bill, Turner, or novelist Zane Grey, from demythologizers who are more aware of "the manifold ways in which one people's ambitions are fulfilled at the expense of another's." A parallel fault line divides those who see the frontier narrative as progressive and ennobling from those who stress conflict, conquest, and environmental depletion. Another line splits those who define "the West" as myth or state of mind from those who anchor it in historical and geographical fact. Still another separates those who define the West as the interior, exclusive Dodge-to-Sierras country, from those who see it extending from the Great Plains to the Pacific. The former think it really ended around 1915. The latter will tell you that it is still happening.

The Angeleno's view of the world is certainly more cosmopolitan than the 1970s' perspective from midtown Manhattan in Saul Steinberg's cartoon. But neither says much about history or about the migrations that have peopled the West. It is time to get to the story, keeping in mind that the West in question here is the Plains-to-Pacific West, the census's West plus the Great Plains, the left half of the map of the United States. Millions of people went there, motivated in most cases by homesteading, gold rushing, California dreaming, nostalgia, or unembellished wage earning. That is the where and the why. Who peopled the West, and when? Those are questions for a demographic history, which is as follows.

Meet the Author

Walter Nugent taught history at the University of Notre Dame from 1984 to 1999, and before that, was Professor of History at Indiana University for twenty-one years. As a visiting professor he has also taught and lived in England, Israel, Germany, Poland, and Ireland. He has published nine previous books and well over a hundred essays and review on American and comparative history. He lives with his wife, the historian Suellen Hoy, in Chesteron, Indiana.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Into the West: The Story of Its People 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
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