In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

286CIVIL WAR HISTORY recent literature on the subject is reflected here. The essay is not completely successful in lending coherence to the "materials" that comprise the book, but they remain useful materials nonetheless. James M. Bergquist Villanova University Travelers on the Western Frontier. Edited by John Francis McDermott. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970. Pp. xi, 351. 810.95.) Thirteen scholars have contributed to this volume. Their contributions are concerned generally with the observations of travelers in the TransMississippi West from 1794 to 1861. There are also descriptions of the western manuscript collections of the Yale University, Newberry and Bancroft libraries, an analysis of the documents and reports to the United States Congress, discussions of two periodicals, Spirit of the Times and The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, and two newspapers, the St. Louis Reveille and the New Orleans Picayune, as key sources for western history. This book is well edited, handsomely illustrated and printed and competently indexed. There is no thesis offered, no special pleading for an hypothesis made and no assertions that this volume is definitive or innovative. Rather, the effort of the editor and contributors is to consider available materials and to "see the frontier as it really was (p. viii)." Without question there is remarkably little analysis presented in these offerings. One group of western historians questions whether it is profitable any longer to write Western history as merely narrative and descriptive prose. It is all too easy to select passages which have a sharp impact on the reader to illustrate a contention or interpretation. Without direction and analysis , history becomes as Charles A. Beard once wrote, "Chaos floating in chaos." The lack of a central theme in this volume, other than that the contents relate to the West, leaves the reader with a sense of frustration. If we read descriptions of travelers as they viewed Indians, for example, more than likely all we gain is a series of word pictures which reveal more about the prejudices and sympathies of the writer toward the Indian than an accurate description of Indian life, customs and institutions . Many travelers wrote for a purpose. They wrote to sell their words, to influence others, or to satisfy a need to record their activities for posterity. Travelers indeed did see the West, but to see is not necessarily to understand. Donald J. Berthrong Purdue University The Mexican War Diary of Thomas D. Tennery. Edited by D. E. Livingston -Little. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970. Pp. xxxix, 117. $4.95.) "We should expect deaths to take place in an army like this, almost ...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
p. 286
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.