The Oxford History of the American West

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When we think of the American West, we tend to conjure up images that are known the world over: bearded forty-niners leading pack mules up a mountain trail, the Oklahoma land stampede, Custer's Last Stand, and especially the range-riding, quick-shooting cowboy. But these familiar images are only a small part of western history. From the arrival of the Navajos in the Southwest more than seven hundred years ago, to the first Spanish settlements in New Mexico in the late sixteenth century, to the large Mormon ...
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Overview


When we think of the American West, we tend to conjure up images that are known the world over: bearded forty-niners leading pack mules up a mountain trail, the Oklahoma land stampede, Custer's Last Stand, and especially the range-riding, quick-shooting cowboy. But these familiar images are only a small part of western history. From the arrival of the Navajos in the Southwest more than seven hundred years ago, to the first Spanish settlements in New Mexico in the late sixteenth century, to the large Mormon migration to the Great Salt Lake, to the tourists flocking to the neon landscape of modern Las Vegas, the complex story of the West stretches across centuries, embracing many voices and contrasting cultures. The West is in fact as varied as America itself. Indeed, to enlarge on Wallace Stegner's singular phrase, the West is America, only more so.
Lavishly illustrated and based on the finest scholarship, The Oxford History of the American West is the first comprehensive study to do full justice to the rich complexity of this region. It brings together the work of twenty-eight leading western historians who explore this area from a dazzling number of perspectives. They provide insightful portraits of the West as a distinctive place of varied peoples--native and non-native, European and Asian, African and Latino--and of varied terrain--from the timbered Pacific Northwest to the Dakota Badlands, and from the fires of Kilauea to the ice cliffs of Glacier Bay, Alaska. They describe the great wealth generated by a series of spectacular bonanzas, such as gold at Sutter's Mill, copper in Butte, Montana, and oil on Alaska's north shore; illuminate the role of the West in the national and global economy; and consider the environmental challenges created by replacing buffalo with cattle or by designating national parks and military test sites. The book also examines the social forces behind the violence of the West, the great political movements that affected the region (most notably, the Populist Party), and the importance of families in settling the West (for instance, tracing one family's westward migration over 150 years). The authors provide important insights about many longstanding controversies, and they offer not only the fruits of the latest thinking about the West, but also a vivid sense of how people actually lived. For instance, we read of pioneers who grated green corn to make pudding they flavored with berries and grasshoppers, and who ate the culms (the soft inner linings of the stalks) like asparagus. Finally, each chapter concludes with an extensive annotated bibliography, offering a full review of related material, and there is a comprehensive index to guide readers to topcis of special interest.
Ranging from a thoughtful analysis of John Ford's classic My Darling Clementine, to a revisionist look at cattle grandee Granville Stuart (once Montana's most revered pioneer), to a survey of Western art and literature (including figures as diverse as Francis Parkman, Frederic Remington, Willa Cather, Georgia O'Keeffe, and N. Scott Momaday), this lively, authoritative volume continually challenges the familiar as it broadens the reader's understanding of a vast and varied region.
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Editorial Reviews

Gilbert Taylor
Gathered under the Oxford brand name are 28 essays from seasoned academics on that kaleidoscopic region of the U.S. known as the West. Such circumlocution is necessary because the West, especially as its land was organized in the 19th century by the U.S., undergoes continual historical redefinition. The most tenacious and influential idea--one of several that these able authors explicitly engage or disparage--was the famous "frontier thesis" expounded by Frederick Jackson Turner in an 1893 lecture; but determining the nature of the frontier implicitly concerns each writer. Specialists all--and economics (conservation versus extraction of resources), native cultures, wars, family and religious life, and artistic representations are just a few of their subjects--yet they all share in the whole compass of the West, conceding it an ambiguous grandeur against its less savory episodes. As a roundup synthesis of the revisionist literature published since the 1960s, and abundantly graced by scores of classic (some of which, like Remington's "The Last Stand", are controversial) paintings and photos, this attractive, provocative set of papers is bound to impress both the expert and the recreational historian. Ideal for the public library.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195059687
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/19/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 904
  • Product dimensions: 7.94 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 2.18 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors:
Clyde A. Milner II is Editor of the Western Historical Quarterly and Professor of History at Utah State University. Carol A. O'Connor is Professor of History at Utah State University. Martha A. Sandweiss is Director of Mead Art Museum and Associate Professor of American Studies at Amherst College.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps, Tables, and Color Plates
Preface
Introduction: America Only More So 1
Ch. 1 Native Peoples and Native Histories 13
Ch. 2 The Spanish-Mexican Rim 45
Ch. 3 Empires of Trade, Hinterlands of Settlement 79
Ch. 4 American Frontier 115
Ch. 5 National Initiatives 155
Ch. 6 Entering the Global Economy 195
Ch. 7 Animals and Enterprise 237
Ch. 8 An Agricultural Empire 275
Ch. 9 A Saga of Families 315
Ch. 10 Religion and Spirituality 359
Ch. 11 Violence 393
Ch. 12 Wage Earners and Wealth Makers 431
Ch. 13 The Federal Presence 469
Ch. 14 Politics and Protests 501
Ch. 15 A Region of Cities 535
Ch. 16 Alaska and Hawai'i 565
Ch. 17 Landscapes of Abundance and Scarcity 603
Ch. 18 Contemporary Peoples/Contested Places 639
Ch. 19 The Visual West 675
Ch. 20 The Literary West 707
Ch. 21 Speaking for the Past 743
Ch. 22 Selling the Popular Myth 771
Ch. 23 Comparing Wests and Frontiers 803
Contributors 835
Index 839
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