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BOOK REVIEWS Essays on the American West: The Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures. Edited by Harold M. Hollingsworth and Sandra L. Myres. (Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1969. Pp. 114. $4.50.) Walter Prescott Webb has been memorialized in many ways, but the one that perhaps would have made him happiest is the memorial lecture series held at the University of Texas at Arlington. The first of these dealt with the Civil War, the second with the New Deal—both removed from the American West with which Webb was so intimately associated , yet appropriate in that he had wide-ranging interests and a multidisciplinary approach to his own area of specialization. The third lecture series was most appropriate, however, for its scope was the American West. Again the results doubtless would be pleasing to Texas' most illustrious historian, for included are four provocative essays with an introduction by Otis A. Singletary and superb editorial work by Harold M. Hollingsworth and Sandra L. Myres. The first essay, by Sandra Myres of the Arlington faculty, delves into "The Ranching Frontier" with emphasis on "Spanish Institutional Backgrounds of the Plains Cattle Industry." It concludes that the first European settlers of the American West, the Spaniards, "found the ranch ideally suited to frontier conditions" and made the "ranch a weapon for the conquest and taming of the frontier" (p. 36). Subsequently Americans moving to Texas found this Spanish premise true, adopted and adapted Spanish techniques, and thereby created "new fortunes, a new society, a whole new way of life. . ." (p. 37). Blaine T. Williams, also of the Arlington faculty, authored the second essay, "The American Family," in which he uses demographic data to disprove the long-believed myth that on the frontier people married at an early age and to show that widows were not prone to easy remarriage. Finally he demonstrates that frontier conditions produced a family cohesion that modem families might emulate. The third essay likewise is by an Arlington faculty member, Robert L. Williamson; his paper, "The Muzzle-Loading Rifle," reads like one of Webb's seminar papers. In it he shows, with impressive documentation, that this weapon was not suited to use on horseback as a weapon but was intended to harvest game: "The rifle fed them, sometimes clothed them. It entertained them, earned them money" (p. 88). The final essay is the work of that distinguished historian of the West, Ray A. Billington. His paper, "Frederick Jackson Turner and Walter Prescott Webb: Frontier Historians," examines why historians pay trib344 ute to these two men—because they evolved new concepts "that have altered our understanding of the American past" (p. 89). Billington searches for the genesis of those concepts to ask questions about how original thoughts are germinated. He finds certain similarities in the backgrounds of the two men, but concludes that both believed in a multidisciplinary approach to history and both were capable of creative responses to external stimuli. Billington's essay should be required reading —not by students, but by the professors—in graduate colleges. If Essays on the American West represents the current condition of the historiography of the American West, then the reader can only conclude that it is well and flourishing, providing provocative new insights, suggesting new avenues of research, and producing handsome dividends. The essayists, the editors, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of Texas Press are all to be complimented on the publication of this volume. Oklahoma State University Odie B. Faulk New Mexico in 1850: A Military View. By Colonel George A. McCaIl. Edited by Robert W. Frazer (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968. Pp. xi, 222. $5.95.) Major George Archibald McCaIl, Third United States Infantry, arrived in Santa Fe in March, 1850, carrying instructions from the Secretary of War to urge the people of New Mexico to seek statehood and to provide the War Department with information about that little known territory . Six months later he completed his inspection and submitted a series of reports regarding the population, economic life, military situation , and Indian dangers relating to New Mexico. Although highly biased against the region, his observations represented the most comprehensive information about New Mexico...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 344-345
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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