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By Gerald D. Nash

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Extra info for Creating the West: historical interpretations, 1890-1990

Sample text

Page xi assisted by Larry D. , provided much practical advice and support. My colleagues in the History Department at the University of New Mexico provided invaluable criticism. Most generous with time and advice was Richard W. Etulain whose encyclopedic knowledge of Western history is unrivaled. Ferenc Szasz shared insights from his special field of expertise which I found invaluable. Helping with the final preparations of this book were my colleagues at the University of Gottingen, where I served as the George Bancroft Professor of American History during 1990-1991.

These dealt with four major perceptions of the West which historians have reflected in their studies. As I reviewed the literature I found that over the years historians have considered the West as a frontier, as a region, as an urban civilization, and as a mythical utopia. My primary aim in this volume is to provide a succinct interpretive synthesis of these efforts since 1890. It is not to propound a new hypothesis about the course of Western history. But my hope is that such an analysis will provide context and perspective on the subject which will be helpful in its future development.

Ross noted in 1908, "In the course of a decade there has come a wide acceptance of Professor Turner's generalization that in America the democratic spirit grew up in and spread from that portion of society in the immediate presence of free land, namely the frontier. "20 Even more profuse in praise was Algie Simons, one of the most popular sociological writers of this period. In his Social Forces in American History, he stated unequivocally "that with Jefferson a new political force made itself felt in national politics.

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