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284CIVIL WAR HISTORY the earliest efforts to attract people to the New World. More than two and a half centuries later, the booster or promoter was still at work in the Great Plains region, cajoling and coaxing people to settle in the area. Professor Emmons of the University of Montana has written a systematic account of boomer propaganda used in the central plains, especially Kansas and Nebraska, with peripheral attention to Colorado and Wyoming. In doing so, he fills a need in western history by recognizing the scope and importance of boomer literature. In the author's opinion, the Central Plains region served as a model for other promotional activities elsewhere. In his first six chapters Emmons treats the various aspects of promotion , ranging from the efforts extended by railroads, newspapers, and state and territorial governments to a treatment of the safety valve implications and the pseudoscientific arguments put forth to counter the image of the "Great American Desert." The recurring image of the frontier as a Garden of Eden faltered on the Great Plains, largely because of the shortage of rainfall. Consequently, promoters found it necessary to educate the public on the possibilities of life in a semiarid region. Obviously, vested interests tried to use various propaganda techniques to their best advantage, although the end-result sometimes served the public interest. Emmons bases his work upon a close study of the propaganda itself and a variety of other sources, including manuscripts , letters, and government reports. Chapter six, "Rain Follows the Plow," is particularly enlightening on the different theories put forth to explain how the Plains people might remedy the problems of their environment. In his final chapter, Emmons deals with dissenters and defenders. The boomers took special offense at the ideas of John Wesley Powell, who wanted a more realistic appraisal of western settlement. In his denial of the garden myth, Powell posed a challenge to most promoters and consequently drew the wrath of their congressional allies. As the author notes in his conclusion, the boomer played an important role in the closing days of the frontier era. In view of the massive amount of boomer materials, it is surprising that historians have not given more attention to boosterism. Emmons' treatment of the subject is straightforward and scholarly, although he seems to have slighted the role of the newspaper editor. A chapter on the preposterous notions of newspapermen would have added some comic relief to an otherwise serious study. Bobby H. Johnson Stephen F. Austin State University The Strange American Way: Letters of Caja Munch from Wiota, Wisconsin , 1855-1859; with An American Adventure, by Johan Storm Munch, translated by Helene Munch and Peter A. Munch; and with an essay Social Class and Acculturation, by Peter A. Munch. (Carbondale BOOK REVIEWS285 and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970. Pp. xiv, 274. $7.95.) This volume is best described as a collection of materials relating to the experience of a Norwegian Lutheran minister, Johan Storm Munch, and his wife in Wisconsin during the years 1855-1859. Of the three sections of the book, the longest consists of the letters written by the minister's wife, Caja Munch, to her family in Norway. They hardly present a picture of the legendary struggling immigrant seeking a place in American life. Caja Munch was too accustomed to the middle-class life of the ministry of the Norwegian state church to ever consider her stay in America as anything but temporary. Her resentment for the "peasant" attitudes of the majority of Norwegian immigrants, and especially for the independence and latitudinarianism they demanded in their congregations, runs through her letters. Although a few letters of Johan Munch are included among those of his wife, his view is more particularly set forth in a memoir written forty-five years later for his children. He, too, never adapted to the free-and-easy congregational structures of the immigrant church, and quarreled, for example, with his parishoners over letting Methodists use the church building. But his strongest reasons for returning to Norway had to do with relationships with immigrant churches more rigidly doctrinaire than his own; he disapproved of the move of some Norwegian Lutherans in America toward...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 284-286
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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