In a stirring and enlightening reexamination of the American West, Yale history professor Faragher (Women and Men on the Overland Trail) and Hine (Second Sight), a University of California professor emeritus of history, gauge the impact of key trends and events--the American Revolution, the multiethnic Gold Rush, the 1867 purchase of Russian America (dubbed Alaska, an Aleut word meaning ""the big land""), the U.S.-Mexican War, the New Deal, etc.--in shaping the West's socioeconomic development. The American West of legend, brimming with ruggedly individualistic cowboys, intrepid pioneers and gunslingers, scarcely exists in this myth-shattering history. The real West was and continues to be a land of immigrants and of conflicting and melding cultures. ""Manifest destiny,"" the authors maintain, was not a deeply held folk belief: rather, it was the deliberate creation of political propagandists determined to unyoke the policy of westward expansion from the growing sectional controversy over slavery in the 1830s and '40s. As the book moves from the West of the past to the present, the authors show how the region has become the nation's economic, political and cultural pacesetter: Hollywood became the capital of the U.S. ""culture industry""; aerospace and defense industries soared; Silicon Valley booted up; Western states absorbed mass migrations from Mexico, Central America and Asia. A substantial revision and update of standard history, this gripping, wonderfully accessible populist saga deserves a place on the shelf alongside the works of Howard Zinn, William Appleman Williams and Ronald Takaki. 233 illus. (many from Yale's treasure-house, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library). (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/10/2000 Release date: 01/01/2000 Genre: Nonfiction
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