White and Limerick analyze some of the most pervasive images of the American West, many of which are represented in a show of the same name at Chicago's Newberry Library this fall. In his contribution ``Frederick Jackson Turner and Buffalo Bill,'' White compares Turner, the distinguished historian who first contended that the notion of the frontier was the driving force of American history and culture, and Buffalo Bill Cody, the Wild West performer, who both appeared in Chicago in 1893. It's hard to believe the two are representing the same terrain: Turner's presentation emphasized settlers idyllically filling a near-empty continent with a few peripheral Indians, while Buffalo Bill's re-enactments were of bloody conflicts with murderous natives. Limerick's ``Adventures of the Frontier in the Twentieth Century'' is incisive and often wry-as is only appropriate for an historian who begins her catalogue of Western images at Disney's Frontierland. Limerick goes on to examine the shameless use of frontier/pioneer images in everything from politics to advertising. At the turn of the century, the frontier was defined as that point at which people were scarce, or as White states, ``where white people were scarce''-with Limerick adding, ``where white people got scared because they were scarce.'' Both scholars look at how the frontier influenced interactions between whites and Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians and African Americans, ultimately creating a real melting pot that, maintains Limerick, made the idea of the frontier a ``cultural glue'' holding Americans together. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994 Release date: 10/01/1994 Genre: Nonfiction
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