Welcome to the third issue of the Books of our West newsletter. These newsletters, featuring longer book reviews and briefer lists of annotated and cited books, will be published periodically. Our lists will include publication details and prices. All of the books are available from Chaparral Books. We welcome your feedback, comments and book suggestions for inclusion in the newsletter.
Chaparral Books is located in southwest Portland, adjacent to Portland State University and Lovejoy Park. Although we specialize in Western Americana and Native American literature, we offer a broad selection of books. We’re also pleased to announce the opening of Chaparral Books’ annex, our new home for a general selection of books along with outstanding selections from leading Portland antiquarian booksellers including Anthology Booksellers, Charles Seluzicki Fine & Rare Books, Cross Genre Books, Cultural Images and Montgomery Rare Books & Manuscripts.
Visit Chaparral Books and our new annex at 1975 SW First Ave., Portland. There’s abundant free parking adjacent to our stores. See us online at chaparralbooks.com or call us at 503-887-0823.
Sue Armitage, long-time professor of history and women’s studies at Washington State University, achieves here what no previous scholar accomplished: a helpful overview of women’s varied and significant roles in the history of the Pacific Northwest from early Indian societies to the present. This is an extraordinarily valuable book in furnishing specialist and general readers with useful generalizations about women’s participation in events and trends usually limited to men in previous regional histories.
Early on, the author tells us that “the major activity of women” of the Greater Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and British Columbia) “has been to build and rebuild families and communities” (17). Drawing extensively on published primary and secondary sources, Armitage shows how women influenced family and communal life from the pre-1800 era to the early 21st century. Particularly appealing are the pen portraits of dozens of individual women who illustrate the general trends the author describes. We see the impact of scores of women from Sacagawea and Narcissa Whitman to Betty Roberts and Kathryn Harrison.
Armitage does not limit her story to the elite, leading women; she also deals with wives and mothers, domestic and field workers, and low-paid clerical workers. She clearly shows, from generation to generation, how women shaped communities through their domestic engineering as well as, increasingly, in their wage work. In these pages, we are treated to coverage, over time, of the significant but often overlooked or misunderstood participation of women in labor unions, women’s activist groups, political organizations, and numerous support groups. Armitage contributes numerous discussions of minority women (or women of color), with especially numerous comments on Native American women.
Some readers might have wished for more emphasis on other topics. Armitage stresses social and economic subjects, and to a less extent political topics. But she devotes less space to traditional cultural-intellectual life; thus we hear almost nothing about major women writers, save for their books that illuminate social concerns. The author also points to regional patriarchal tendencies that held women back over the decades. Perceptive observation. Still, we might have benefited from more examples of how husband-wife, father-daughter, and brother-sister endeavors opened doors for other women. And, where did women make mistakes or fail?
These are but quibbling reservations. Know this, after one reads Armitage’s book, he or she cannot accept previous, narrow histories about the Pacific Northwest that skip over women. Finally, for ambitious readers and researchers, this clear, smoothly written book provides a multitude of women and their activities to pursue in new research. The helpful listings of “Sources” at the end of each chapter are invaluable beginning points for ambitious readers and writers alike. — Richard W. Etulain
Susan B. Anthony traveled to Oregon for several efforts to pass woman’s suffrage measures. Edwards deals with Anthony’s travels, her suffrage campaigns, and particularly her revealing contacts with Oregon women’s leader, Abigail Scott Duniway.
Jeffrey, a noted authority on women’s experiences in the American West, has written here a probing biography of missionary Narcissa Whitman. Balanced and analytical, the life story furnishes a thoughtful treatment of an important western woman with a tragic ending.
Eva Emery Dye wrote historical romances and romantic history about Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, Dr. John McLoughlin–and several others. Browne deals with Dye’s life, her research, and her novels and histories. A helpful, valuable introduction.
Yates provides the only book-length study of women writers of formula Westerns. Dealing with, among others, B. M. Bower, Caroline Lockhart, and Vingie E. Roe, the author demonstrates how these female writers put their gender brands on the popular Western.
Miller’s study of Mary Hallock Foote, a leading Local Color writer, and artist, is a first-rate contribution on an eastern woman who came west and lived most of her life in her adopted region. Foote became the model for the heroine in Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Angle of Repose (1971).
Miller, the military historian and biographer of the American West, contributes a revealing life story of Matilda Cox Stephenson, an early anthropologist studying the American West. The product is a probing, insightful life of a path-breaking woman in the region.
A straightforward, easy-to-read account of a notable Indian woman leader. A Paiute leader, Sarah dramatically made her way in both Indian and white worlds.
Sally Zanjani. Sarah Winnemucca. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. 368 pp. $15.
Author Zanjani, a political scientist, provides the most thorough study to date of Sarah Winnemucca. Wide and deep in research, revealing in interpretations, and smoothly written, Zanjani’s book deserves the positive attention it has received.
Librarian Canfield drew on a wide variety of sources to provide a scholarly study of Sarah Winnemucca. The author’s full-length biography emphasizes this Native woman as a cultural go-between, building bridges of understanding between Native American and Anglo American societies.
Welcome to second issue of our Books of the West newsletter. These newsletters, featuring longer book reviews and briefer lists of annotated and cited books, will be published periodically during the year, we hope on a quarterly basis. Our lists will include publication details and prices. All of the books are available from Chaparral Books. We welcome your feedback, comments and book suggestions for inclusion in the newsletter.
Chaparral Books in located in southwest Portland, adjacent to Portland State University and Lovejoy Park. Although we specialize in Western Americana and Native American Literature we offer a broad selection of books. We have recently added four significant collections to the store:
Books on Lewis and Clark from the Lewis and Clark Library Special Collections, including several signed copies of well-known authors to well-known historians in as new condition;
Books from the granddaughter of novelist Ernest Haycox, including several signed, first editions;
Books from Ray Snyder, a well-known Portland area book collector of Western Americana; and
Steve Duin, a columnist for the Oregonian has joined the shop and will be offering the books he wrote, as well as books from his private collection.
When in Portland please stop in and view our offerings, including the new additions listed above.
Doig, Ivan. Last Bus to Wisdom. New York: Riverhead Books, 2015. 453 pp. Cloth $24. New. ISBN 978-1-59463-202-0.
Anaya, Rudolfo. The Sorrows of Young Alfonso. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. 224 pp. Cloth $24.95. New. ISBN 978-08061-5225-4.
These two recent novels by veteran western writers illustrate the diversity of western fiction appearing recently. Both are superb products by leading western authors.
Ivan Doig’s appealing western novel will be a bittersweet experience for fans of that writer. The son of an itinerant Montana sheepherder, grandson of a loving grandmother, and holder of a Ph.D. in American history, Doig launched a notable literary career in 1978 with his autobiographical volume, This House of Sky. All told, including this final work (the author died in 2015), Doig produced three works of nonfiction and a dozen novels. He was often rightly lauded as a leading western novelist.
The Last Bus to Wisdom overflows with Doig trademarks. It features two of his familiar narrative techniques: (1) a boy hero in a rollicking, coming-of-age story, and (2) page after page of word play, humor, and linguistic dexterity.
Doig employs a journey plot, from Montana to Wisconsin and back on a “dog bus” (Greyhound), on which to build his episodic story. Eleven-year-old Donal (without the “d”) Cameron, going on at least twenty, encounters and interacts with a vanity fair of unusual characters, contacts that Doig uses to create depth and variety to his story. Unable to connect with his dictatorial aunt in Wisconsin, The Kate Smith, the preteen hero escapes with her companion, Herman the German, and they stumble their way back west, including riding “on the last bus to Wisdom,” Montana.
Doig spices his novel with dozens of appealing scenes and events. The final chapters set in the hay country of Wisdom are particularly lively and intriguing in their depictions of the hay hoboes who work at a large ranch. Equally appealing are the other perceptive descriptions of Donal’s much-loved Gram, Aunt Kate, Herman the German, and dozens of other tourists and workers.
Clearly, his last novel is a fitting summing-up of Ivan Doig’s superb literary career. Sharply etched characters, lively word games, and memorable treatments of western scenes remain testaments to Doig’s immensely successful writing career.
Anaya’s book, The Sorrows of Young Alfonso, moves in much different directions. Those acquainted with Anaya’s earlier fiction, especially his classic Chicano novel, Bless Me, Ultima (1972), will recognize familiar characterizations, themes, and other emphases in this slim work. Much of the setting is the llano of southeastern New Mexico. The coming of age of a boy and young man is a central feature. Another curandera (woman healer), Agapita, plays a major role here as Ultima had in the earlier novel. And here are stresses on mythology, religious symbolism (particularly Catholic Christianity), and Chicano society and culture. And the budding sexuality of the narrator and other young men, their reflections on religion and secularity, and even owls and witches are much in evidence here.
But there are intriguing differences too. Is this a novel, an autobiography, or treatise on a life and ideas–or parts of all three? The plot consists of a nameless male narrator writing a series of letters to “K,” an unnamed woman. The storyteller is writing about Alfonso, a young Chicano growing up in rural New Mexico who eventually moves to Albuquerque and goes to the University of New Mexico. While the narrator is spinning out his ideas, many of which remind one of Anaya’s ideas, he is also revealing his own thoughts, which also are reminiscent of what Anaya has written previously. The backgrounds in rural New Mexico, the town of Santa Rosa, and the years in Albuquerque and at the University of New Mexico, even the name of Alfonso’s wife–Patricia–parallel the events of Rudolfo Anaya’s life.
Anaya repeatedly stresses the power of “story.” Stories are “everything”; they liberate us, setting “free all of life” (114). And once stories and mythology come together, we can “touch the soul.” In short, “Story is all we have” (126).
The letters the narrator writes (and a few are written by Alfonso) revolve around what happens to Alfonso from his baby years to his twenties. Early on the curandera Agapita tells him that life is a “world…full of sorrow.” That theme, as Alfonso experiences life-threating injuries, upsetting moves, and disappointments, plays out in letter after letter. Still, alongside those sorrows are also hard-wrought successes through diligence, encouragement (especially from his mother and Agapita), and perseverance. Not all is sorrow.
The Sorrows of Young Alfonso overflows with Chicano thoughts, New Mexico physical and cultural settlings, and an intriguing mix of religious, philosophical, and literary symbolism. These appealing elements will capture more than a few delighted readers.
— Richard W. Etulain
Other Western Novels To Consider
Erdrich, Louise. LaRose: A Novel. New York: Harper, 2016. 384 pp. Cloth $27.99. New. ISBN 978-0062277022.
Erdrich pens another appealing story of Indians (Ojibwe) and non-Indians in a narrative of accidental death, justice, and retribution. Readers will likewise enjoy the author’s handing of mystical elements.
Davis, H. L.Honey in the Horn. 1935; reprinted, Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2015. 380 pp., Paper $19.95. New. ISBN 978-0-87071-768-0.
Davis’s first of several novels won Harper and Pulitzer prizes. It was–and is–celebrated as a first-rate western regional novel.
Balch, Frederic Homer. The Bridge of the Gods: A Romance of Indian Oregon. 1890; reprinted, Pullman: Washington State University, 2016. 316 pp. Paper $19.95. New. ISBN 978-087422-343-9
Balch’s romance was the first novel of the Pacific Northwest to treat extensively Native Americans. The author attempted to deal with both the ideas of a conservative Protestant missionary and with Native American lore and customs.
Gloss, Molly. The Jump-Off Creek. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. 186 pp. Cloth $10. As new.
ISBN 978-0395510865. Signed.
Gloss tells a moving, probing story of a pioneer woman proving her courage, stamina, and diligence on an eastern Oregon farm-ranch. A wonderfully evocative novel.
Gulick, Bill. The Hallelujah Train. New York: Doubleday, 1963. 192 pp. Cloth $15. Very Good. Signed, no dust jacket.
Gulick’s rollicking novel about a whiskey-loaded wagon train coming west became a hit Western film, The Hallelujah Trail, starring Burt Lancester. A novel brimming with Gulick’s trademark humor.
Kirkpatrick, Jane. The Memory Weaver: A Novel. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2015. 352 pp. Paper $10.00. ISBN 978-0800722326.
Kirkpatrick combines her usual inviting mix of ingredients in this historical novel. She deals with a young mother, with lingering memories of the Whitman missionary disaster, now trying to make sense of that clinging past and her new present.
Momaday, N. Scott. The Ancient Child. New York: Doubleday, 1989, 2nd printing. 315 pp. Cloth $10. As New. ISBN 978-0385279727.
Momaday’s novel focuses on two Native Americans searching for their identities. Indian myths and western legends (e.g. Billy the Kid) play important fictional roles.
Proulx, Annie. Barkskins. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016. 736 pp. Cloth $15.00. As new. ISBN 978-0743288781.
Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Proulx has produced an epic novel tracing frontiers and forests across several countries. The book’s narrative power, intriguing characters, and panoramic settings will draw thousands of readers.
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Almanac of the Dead. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991. 763 pp. Cloth $12.As new. ISBN 978-0671666088.
This sprawling, complex, and prophetic novel by a Native American author deals with a coming disaster. It indicts politics and celebrates Indian mythology on a vast fictional canvas.
Hambleton, James, and Theona J. Wood, Water and Grass: Meek Cutoff of 1845. Printed by Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Id., 2014. 192 pp. Paper $24.00. New. ISBN: 978-0-9903860-2-5.
Most writers contend that the Meek Cutoff of 1845 across eastern and up through central Oregon to The Dallas, and led by former mountain man Stephen H. Meek, was a clear disaster. These historians conclude that Meek, a proud and confident man, led astray those hundreds who traveled the 435-mile, 45-day route with him. The critics say he got lost, pushing travelers through areas he knew but glancingly; so, he caused some overlanders to separate from the main group, and was the reason too many went hungry, lost their livestock, or even some their lives.
The writers/compilers of this factual volume dissent from these negative writings about Meek and the Meek Cutoff route. They assert that Meek knew his way, and the travelers should have believed him. The goal of this volume, the authors make clear, is “to clear up misconceptions and misinformation about Stephen Meek and the Meek Cutoff and to define the trail as accurately as possible” (xii).
The authors’ oversize volume is a rich harvest of factual details. They draw extensively on about a half dozen contemporary, hand-written, and revealing diaries on which to base much of their account. Their book overflows with these diary entries and numerous maps, but contains less narrative detail. James H. Hambleton’s fifty years as a professional land surveyor repeatedly shows up in the cartographic and trail details in this narrative. He employs the latest technology to give readers a strong sense of what the trail travelers saw and experienced in their arduous travel.
Generally, this is very local history, concentrating intensively on daily details. If the book is narrow in focus and light on sociocultural detail, it is exhaustively thorough on land surfaces, water sources, and grass availability. Trail aficionados will relish the abundant factual details the husband-and-wife authors have compiled.
Dary, David. The Oregon Trail: An American Saga. New York: Knopf, 2004. 415 pp. Cloth $40.As new, Signed. ISBN: 0-375-41399-5.
Journalist and historian David Dary combines talents in those two fields to produce this valuable overview of the Oregon Trail. When this smoothly written narrative appeared a dozen years ago, it was hailed as the best general summary of this history-changing series of events. Some reviewers were even willing to place Dary’s appealing book alongside such classics as Francis Parkman’s The Oregon Trail and Bernard DeVoto’s Across the Wide Missouri.
Dary travels chronologically, from the first events shaping the trans-Mississippi West to the end of the trail about 1870–and beyond. The first eighty pages are devoted to backgrounds before the 1840s, the major section to the 1840s and 1850s, and the closing chapters to the Civil War and postwar happenings.
The author spices his narrative with lively accounts of dozens of overland trail groups and individuals traveling with those companies. For example, we hear much about Robert Stuart’s trip from Astoria eastward that became, in part, a route for later overlanders coming west; Dr. John McLoughlin and the Hudson’s Bay Company; and the coming of missionaries such as Jason Lee, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, and several Catholic priests. Then follow chapters that trace yearly crossings to Oregon, California, and Mormon Utah, from the early 1840s through the Civil War years.
Dary lards his narrative with dozens of long block quotes that provide human interest, physical descriptions, and daily details of trail travel. He uses the words of Jesse Applegate, the Sager girls, John C. Frèmont, and dozens of other writers and diarists. He also makes good use of information culled from newspapers, LeRoy Hafen’s series on the mountain men, and Kenneth Holmes’s volumes on frontier women. Final listings of cutoff routes and covered wagon landmarks and a glossary of important trail terms add substantially to this appealing volume.
In short, those interested in the history of the most important trail snaking across the American West should begin with this notable book on the Oregon Trail by David Dary.
— Richard W. Etulain
Follow Up On Books About Western Trails
Bagley, Will. So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trails to Oregon and California 1812-1848. Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails. Vol. 1, 1812-1848. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010. 458 pp. Cloth $35, as new, signed. ISBN 978-0-8061-4103-9.
Thorough and detailed, this smoothly written big book is a valuable overview of overland trails from 1812 to the California Gold Rush time. First of a four-part series.
Bagley, Will. With Golden Visions Bright Before Them: Trails to the Mining West, 1849-1852. Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails, Vol 2. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012. 448 pp. Cloth $30. As new. Signed. ISBN 978-0-8061-4284-5.
This extensive study by the most recent authority on the overland trails offers a rich, thorough account of the trails that numerous pioneers took coming west. Valuable in all ways.
Ely, Glen Sample. The Texas Frontier and the Butterfield Overland Mail, 1858-1861. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. 440 pp. Cloth $32. New. ISBN 978-0-0806-1522-19.
Richly illustrated, this attractive history traces an important frontier mail route through mid-nineteenth-century Texas.
Hazelett, Stafford J., ed. Wagons to the Willamette: Captain Levi Scott and the Southern Route to Oregon, 1844-1847, by Levi Scott and James Layton Collins. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 2015. Signed by “Stafford.” 254 pp. Paper $20; as new. ISBN 978-087422-333-0.
This account of travel via the Applegate Trail provides an alternative to the usual Oregon Trail narratives. Numerous footnote annotations help clarify obscure references in the Scott diary.
Jackson, W. Turrentine. Wagon Roads West: A Study of Federal Road Surveys and Construction in the Trans-Mississippi West…1846-1869. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952. 422 pp. Cloth $40; very good.
Jackson, an authority on frontier and western transportation and mining, furnishes here a very useful account of the surveying and construction of wagon roads west in the mid-nineteenth century. Still an authoritative work after more than sixty years.
Johnson, Ken. Legendary Truths: Peter Lassen and His Gold Rush Trail in Fact and Fable. Np: Prong Horn Press, 2012. 348 pp. Signed. Paper $25. As new. ISBN 978-1-932636-93-2.
Johnson treats the facts and legends surrounding noted California pioneer Peter Lassen. The author provides a very useful and fact-filled account of major northern California trails.
Korns, J. Roderic, et al., eds. West from Fort Bridger: The Pioneering of Immigrant Trails Across Utah, 1846-1850. Rev. and updated by Will Bagley and Harold Schindler. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1994. 328 pp. Cloth $21.As new. ISBN 0-87421-178-6.
This collection of diary and journal excerpts provides major insights into immigrant trails crossing Utah in the later 1840s.
Lass, William E.From the Missouri to the Great Salt Lake: An Account of Overland Freighting. Nebraska State Historical Society, Vol. 16. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1972. 312 pp. Cloth $20.Very Good.
This overview of trailing from Missouri and Nebraska to Utah is by a major trail historian. He covers the period from 1848 to 1869, in the pre-railroad era.
Ragen, Brooks Geer. The Meek Cutoff: Tracing the Oregon Trail’s Lost Wagon Train of 1845. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013. 156 pp. Cloth $35. New. ISBN 978-0-295993096.
This oversized, richly illustrated volume will attract readers with its inviting layout and content. The book traces the controversial Meek Cutoff route from the Boise area to The Dalles, Oregon.
Russell, Ashley Howard.Siskiyou Trail. Portland: Binfords and Mort, 1959. Signed to a friend. 195 pp. Cloth $30. Very Good.
This historical novel follows the Siskiyou Trail stretching from northern California into southern Oregon. The author features conflicts with Indians and among settler groups, miners, and packers.
Arenson, Adam, and Andrew R. Graybill, eds. Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015. 321 pp. $29.95. As new. ISBN 978-0-520-28379-4
Scharff, Virginia, ed. Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015. 321 pp. $34.95. As new. ISBN 978-0-520-28126-4.
In fall 2002, Professor Elliott West, in his presidential address “Reconstructing Race” before the Western History Association, urged American historians to see closer links between what he considered the two most important topics of nineteenth-century American history: the Civil War and the western movement. Too often historians devoted separate chapters to these two subjects in their historical overviews, thereby overlooking how the Civil War and the West were intertwined. Following ideas like these path-breaking ones of Professor West, the historians in these two collections of essays endeavor to make explicit several Civil War and West connections.
Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States, edited by Adam Arenson and Andrew R. Graybill, gathers twelve essays. Those essays are divided into three parts: sections on borderland conflicts, aftereffects of the Civil War, and ongoing tensions over citizenship measures. Most of the essays are monographic, well researched, and clearly written. Writers particularly deal with minority experiences.
A number of similarities exist between Civil War Wests and the second volume under review, Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West, edited by Virginia Scharff. The partner book is also a collection of essays, this time eleven items. The major organizing theme is the same: finding and emphasizing links between the Civil War era and the West. The emphases in the two books are also parallel: social history topics, especially racial-ethnic history, but also stress on gender and social classes.
But differences are equally apparent. Liberty and empire ideas, drawing on Thomas Jefferson’s words “empires for liberty,” provide variant themes for the second volume. Plus, it also utilizes dozens of artefacts from the Autry National Center for the American West in southern California, and more than 150 photographs and other visuals from other collections, to richly illustrate its pages.
These two volumes add much to connections between the Civil War era and the American West, but also contain large gaps. Much of the American West is not covered, with most essays treating the Texas to California portion of the southern West. Few pieces deal with the northern West. Readers will also notice how little is said about Abraham Lincoln. Was there any national figure who exhibited more shaping influence on the West during the Civil War years than Lincoln? Probably not. One would not know from these essays, for example, that in the early 1860s Lincoln was naming more western governors than western residents were.
Still, one should remember the contributions of these two volumes much more than their limitations. Their central purpose–to show connections between Civil War issues and happenings in the American West–is clearly evident in nearly all of these essays. After perusing these writings, specialists in western history and the Civil War and Lincoln scholars should come away with a determination to tell more cross-continental stories. If they do, we’ll have enlarged and more valuable histories about mid-nineteenth-century America.
— Richard W. Etulain
Other Books On The Civil War In The American West
Colton, Ray C.The Civil War in the Western Territories: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959. 230 pp. Cloth $22. Very Good.
Colton deals narrowly but thoroughly with the Civil War military history of these four territories. His emphases are on Union battles with Confederates and Indians.
Etulain, Richard W.Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2013. 212 pp. Paper $19.95. New. ISBN 978-0-87071-702-4.
This slim volume treats Abraham Lincoln’s connections, especially those of friendship and politics, during the Civil War years in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The volume also deals with civil rights, slavery, Indian conflicts, and North-South controversies in the Oregon Country.
Higham, Carol L.The Civil War and the West: The Frontier Transformed. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013. 153 pp. Cloth $37.00. New. ISBN 978-0-313-39358-7.
This brief volume on a large subject focuses on military history and the impact of war on western development both before and during the Civil War. The author also treats, in abbreviated form, Civil War influences on western treatment of Indians, statehood aspirations, and regional differences between the East and the West.
Josephy, Alvin M., Jr. The Civil War in the American West. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1992. First printing, 448 pp. Cloth $15. As new. ISBN 0-394-56482-0.
This volume remains by far the best overview of the Civil War in the American West-especially on military history. Josephy, a skilled and appealing writer, also deals with conflicts with Indians and with major military leaders. Valuable book.
Matthews, Glenna. The Golden State in the Civil War: Thomas Starr King, the Republican Party, and the Birth of Modern California. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Cloth $95.00. New. ISBN 978-0-521-194006.
Matthews provides a revealing reading of California’s Civil War years, particularly through political conflicts, cultural developments, and the life of a leading Unitarian minister, Thomas Starr King. A valuable book on an important topic.
Potter, James E.Standing Firmly by the Flag: Nebraska Territory and the Civil War, 1861-1867. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012. 375 pp. Paper 375 pp. $29.95. New. ISBN 978-0-8032-4090-2.
Potter, a research historian at the Nebraska Historical Society, furnishes a fact-filled overview of the military history of Nebraska during the Civil War years and shortly thereafter. The author also deals with the socioeconomic impact of the war on Nebraska residents and their shifting attitudes toward slavery and blacks.
Richards, Leonard L.The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: A. A. Knopf, 2007. 292 pp. Cloth $20. As new. ISBN 978-0-307-26520-3.
This very strong monograph clarifies the steps, especially the political ones, leading from California’s disruptive Gold Rush years, through the 1850s, and up to the election of 1860. Superbly researched and smoothly written.
Thompson, Jerry D.A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2016. 952 pp. Cloth $95.00. New. ISBN 978-08263-5567-6.
This mammoth study by the leading expert on the Civil War military history of the Southwest will please both scholars and general readers. Thoroughly researched and clearly written, it is obviously the definitive work on these subjects.
Billington, Ray Allen.American Frontier Heritage. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993. 310 pp. Cloth $12.Very good. ISBN 0-8263-1463-5
Ray Billington, the leading authority on the American frontier in the second half of the twentieth century, here surveys the heritage of the frontier experience. Following the ideas of Frederick Jackson Turner, Billington interprets the West as a series of westward-moving frontiers from the East to the West Coast. His coverage stops at the 1890s, the “closed frontier.”
Etulain, Richard W.Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006. 466 pp. Cloth $75.New. Signed. ISBN 978-0-8263-4032-0.
This overview of the American West from earliest residents to about 2000 follows a middle-of-the-road perspective. Neither a triumphalist frontier story nor a work of New Western history, this work attempts to balance conservative and progressive emphases.
Furman, Necah Stewart.Walter Prescott Webb: His Life and Impact. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1976. 222 pp. Cloth, $20. Very good. ISBN 0-8263-0412-5.
This brief biography is a helpful introduction to the life and writings of Walter Prescott Webb. As the author shows, Webb’s The Great Plains (1931) was a benchmark in western historical writing, demonstrating how a physical environment could shape the history of the region.
Hawgood, John A. American Western Frontiers: The Exploration and Settlement of the Trans- Mississippi West. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967. 440 pp. Cloth, $25.Good.
A smoothly written narrative history, this overview volume by a British scholar covers the American frontier to 1900. Mostly focusing on to-the-West movements, it does little with the twentieth century.
Hine, Robert V., and John Mack Faragher. The American West: An Interpretive History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 616 pp. Cloth $20. As new. ISBN 0-300-07833-1.
Building on Hine’s earlier cultural-intellectual overview of the West, this revised version adds substantially through Faragher’s first-rate work in social history and on the nineteenth century. Exceptionally well written and very strong on the pre-1900 period.
Limerick, Patricia Nelson. The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1987. 396 pp. Paper. $9. Very good. ISBN 0-393-30497-3.
The most important work of New Western history by the leader of the movement. No Patty Limerick, perhaps no New Western history. Written with verve and the interest-whetting draw of a first-rate journalist. Emphasizes the racism, environmental degradation, and settler cupidity that plagued western history from earliest contact with Indians to the present.
Milner, Clyde A., II, Carol A. O’Connor, and Martha Sandweiss, eds. The Oxford History of the American West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. 872 pp. Cloth $20. As New. ISBN 0-19505968-9.
A mammoth history of twenty-three chapters newly written by leading specialists in western history, this is a superb reference work and general history. Wonderfully illustrated and thorough in suggestions for further reading.
Pomeroy, Earl. The Pacific Slope: A History of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. 1965. 427 pp. Cloth $30.Very Good. ISBN 0-295-95295-4.
The most interpretive of the western regional histories, Pomeroy’s analytical volume is particularly strong on the post-1900 era. Rather than emphasizing the West as a radical break from the East, as Frederick Jackson Turner did, Pomeroy stresses eastern continuities and carryovers in the West.
Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Early Writings of Frederick Jackson Turner. Ed. Everett E. Edwards. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1938. 316 pp. Cloth $40.Very Good.
A collection of Turner’s essays from about 1890 to the 1920s, this anthology provides a thorough glimpse of the approaches, interpretations, and conclusions Turner utilized and advanced. An important gathering of the early works of probably the US’s most important historian and the father of western history.
White, Richard. “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A History of the American West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991. 644 pp. Cloth $24. Very Good.
A major work of the New Western history, White’s overview and interpretive textbook gave students of the American West a novel view of the region much at odds from the earlier Turner and Billington interpretations. Cerebral, analytical, and thorough, the book covers the history of the West from European entry up to the late twentieth century.