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Eyewitness to the American West: 500 Years…

Eyewitness to the American West: 500 Years of Firsthand History

by David Colbert

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0670881031, Hardcover)

The American West is a vast historical landscape, far richer than the cowboys-and-Indians simplifications of Hollywood allow, far more complex than most textbooks can make room to discuss. David Colbert recognizes at the outset of Eyewitness to the American West that "the West" has always been a relative term. For the New England colonists, it began just outside the door; for the cavaliers of Virginia, it started at the Shenandoah River; for Kansas freeholders, it lay beyond the Rocky Mountains. Colbert lets the actors of its history decide what constitutes the West, and he lets them do the talking in this intriguing documentary history, which begins with the Spanish conquest of Mexico and ends with Bill Gates's conquest of the software industry. In between, Colbert's anthology is populated with dozens of dramatic incidents; massacres, gold strikes, and atomic-bomb tests among them. Although he draws widely on the usual suspects--for instance, Mark Twain's often-quoted account of the Comstock Lode and Hunter Thompson's imaginative descriptions of Bay Area motorcycle gangs--Colbert also includes voices that are not often heard in collections of this kind, quoting from the diaries of pioneer women, the journals of Japanese-American internees, and contemporary newspaper accounts of cattle drives and Mafia assassinations. Offering a broad view of the Western past, Colbert's documentary history is a useful resource for students and general readers alike. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:35 -0400)

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"The West conjures images of rolling plains and the Rocky Mountains, cowboys and Indians. Yet Eyewitness to the American West reveals that the classic "Old West" is just part of a 500-year history in which the first conquistadors are intimately connected to the men who created Silicon Valley. Seamlessly, these eyewitness reports tie the Old West's shifting frontier with the modern West's evolving social patterns."--BOOK JACKET. "And here are countless surprises. The first European to see the Pacific Ocean, the founder of Texas, and the man responsible for Silicon Valley's location all fled west to escape creditors after going bankrupt. The first skirmishes of the Civil War, women's suffrage, and even Social Security are among the many national social shifts that occurred first in the West, where new states required new laws, and established institutions held little influence."--BOOK JACKET. "Eyewitness to the American West brings together conquistadors and missionaries, venture capitalists and new age therapists, to create a kaleidoscope of American history - surprising, enlightening, and entertaining."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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