Download A Companion to the American West (Blackwell Companions to by William Deverell PDF

By William Deverell

A spouse to the yank West is a rigorous, illuminating advent to the historical past of the yankee West. Twenty-five essays by means of professional students synthesize the easiest and such a lot provocative paintings within the box and supply a entire review of subject matters and historiography. Covers the tradition, politics, and surroundings of the yank West via sessions of migration, payment, and modernization Discusses local americans and their conflicts and integration with American settlers

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Additional info for A Companion to the American West (Blackwell Companions to American History)

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For the most part, however, this vital topic has suffered an historical snubbing during the last generation or two. Oscar O. Winther’s work of nearly thirty years, from the 1930s into the 1960s (1936, 1950, 1964), was supplemented by excellent earlier works on steamboating and roadbuilding, but all those subjects have long been ripe for a fresh look, both in their particular settings and in their impact on the West. As Patricia Limerick has pointed out (1999), the mesmerizing power of overland migration has blinded us somewhat to the extraordinary social experience of approaching the West from the sea, and to that we can add a neglect of the economic impact of maritime trade following the Mexican War and the Gold Rush.

In The Legacy of Conquest (1987), arguably the most influential of the works of the “New Western History,” Patricia Nelson Limerick challenges the tendency to cut off western history around 1900. Forces generated in the nineteenth century, she argues, pushed vigorously into the next. The time is ripe today to call into the question the artificial division at the other end of the nineteenth century. By the traditional view, western history generally, and certainly anything to do with imperial politics, does not really get underway until the first agents of the United States show up shortly after 1800.

Half a century ago Henry Nash Smith virtually single-handedly birthed the field of American Studies with Virgin Land: The American West as Myth and Symbol. One could honestly say this book is about the usual episodes of economic expansion, especially the spread of an agricultural empire, governmental encouragement through railroads and the Homestead Act, and the agrarian disappointment at the century’s end. But the most untutored reader quickly sees that Smith is up to something else. His interest is in the West as mass dream.

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