The Modern American West

Published by: University of Arizona Press

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The Modern American West

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Hell of a Vision

Regionalism and the Modern American West

Robert L. Dorman

The American West has taken on a rich and evocative array of regional identities since the late nineteenth century. Wilderness wonderland, Hispanic borderland, homesteader’s frontier, cattle kingdom, urban dynamo, Native American homeland. Hell of a Vision explores the evolution of these diverse identities during the twentieth century, revealing how Western regionalism has been defined by generations of people seeking to understand the West’s vast landscapes and varied cultures.

Focusing on the American West from the 1890s up to the present, Dorman provides us with a wide-ranging view of the impact of regionalist ideas in pop culture and diverse fields such as geography, land-use planning, anthropology, journalism, and environmental policy-making.

Going well beyond the realm of literature, Dorman broadens the discussion by examining a unique mix of texts. He looks at major novelists such as Cather, Steinbeck, and Stegner, as well as leading Native American writers. But he also analyzes a variety of nonliterary sources in his book, such as government reports, planning documents, and environmental impact studies.

Hell of a Vision is a compelling journey through the modern history of the American West—a key region in the nation of regions known as the United States.

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Indian Resilience and Rebuilding

Indigenous Nations in the Modern American West

Donald L. Fixico

Indian Resilience and Rebuilding provides an Indigenous view of the last one-hundred years of Native history and guides readers through a century of achievements. It examines the progress that Indians have accomplished in rebuilding their nations in the 20th century, revealing how Native communities adapted to the cultural and economic pressures in modern America. Donald Fixico examines issues like land allotment, the Indian New Deal, termination and relocation, Red Power and self-determination, casino gaming, and repatriation. He applies ethnohistorical analysis and political economic theory to provide a multi-layered approach that ultimately shows how Native people reinvented themselves in order to rebuild their nations.  

Fixico identifies the tools to this empowerment such as education, navigation within cultural systems, modern Indian leadership, and indigenized political economy. He explains how these tools helped Indian communities to rebuild their nations. Fixico constructs an Indigenous paradigm of Native ethos and reality that drives Indian modern political economies heading into the twenty-first century.

This illuminating and comprehensive analysis of Native nation’s resilience in the twentieth century demonstrates how Native Americans reinvented themselves, rebuilt their nations, and ultimately became major forces in the United States. Indian Resilience and Rebuilding, redefines how modern American history can and should be told.

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A Land Apart

The Southwest and the Nation in the Twentieth Century

Flannery Burke

A Land Apart is not just a cultural history of the modern Southwest—it is a complete rethinking and recentering of the key players and primary events marking the Southwest in the twentieth century. Historian Flannery Burke emphasizes how indigenous, Hispanic, and other non-white people negotiated their rightful place in the Southwest. Readers visit the region’s top tourist attractions and find out how they got there, listen to the debates of Native people as they sought to establish independence for themselves in the modern United States, and ponder the significance of the U.S.-Mexico border in a place that used to be Mexico. Burke emphasizes policy over politicians, communities over individuals, and stories over simple narratives.



Burke argues that the Southwest’s reputation as a region on the margins of the nation has caused many of its problems in the twentieth century. She proposes that, as they consider the future, Americans should view New Mexico and Arizona as close neighbors rather than distant siblings, pay attention to the region’s history as Mexican and indigenous space, bear witness to the area’s inequalities, and listen to the Southwest’s stories. Burke explains that two core parts of southwestern history are the development of the nuclear bomb and subsequent uranium mining, and she maintains that these are not merely a critical facet in the history of World War II and the militarization of the American West but central to an understanding of the region’s energy future, its environmental health, and southwesterners’ conception of home.



Burke masterfully crafts an engaging and accessible history that will interest historians and lay readers alike. It is for anyone interested in using the past to understand the present and the future of not only the region but the nation as a whole.

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The Sagebrush Trail

Western Movies and Twentieth-Century America

Richard Aquila

The Sagebrush Trail is a history of Western movies but also a history of twentieth-century America. Richard Aquila’s fast-paced narrative covers both the silent and sound eras, and includes classic westerns such as Stagecoach, A Fistful of Dollars, and Unforgiven, as well as B-Westerns that starred film cowboys like Tom Mix, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 traces the birth and growth of Westerns from 1900 through the end of World War II. Part 2 focuses on a transitional period in Western movie history during the two decades following World War II. Finally, part 3 shows how Western movies reflected the rapid political, social, and cultural changes that transformed America in the 1960s and the last decades of the twentieth century.

The Sagebrush Trail explains how Westerns evolved throughout the twentieth century in response to changing times, and it provides new evidence and fresh interpretations about both Westerns and American history. These films offer perspectives on the past that historians might otherwise miss. They reveal how Americans reacted to political and social movements, war, and cultural change. The result is the definitive story of Western movies, which contributes to our understanding of not just movie history but also the mythic West and American history. Because of its subject matter and unique approach that blends movies and history, The Sagebrush Trail should appeal to anyone interested in Western movies, pop culture, the American West, and recent American history and culture.

The mythic West beckons but eludes. Yet glimpses of its utopian potential can always be found, even if just for a few hours in the realm of Western movies. There on the silver screen, the mythic West continues to ride tall in the saddle along a “sagebrush trail” that reveals valuable clues about American life and thought.

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