The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954

Haook Reviews
RUDOLPH L. BIESELE, Editor
The Great Frontier. By Walter Prescott Webb. Boston (Hough-
ton Mifflin Company), 1952. Pp. 434. $5.00.
The Great Frontier concept of Walter Prescott Webb is based
upon the assumption that the new lands discovered in the late
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries constituted a frontier for Europe
in the sense that the vacant lands of the western United States
were the American frontier. In his book Professor Webb advances
the "boom hypothesis" of modern western civilization that the
abundance of wealth created from the Great Frontier was largely
responsible for the shaping of our institutions. As the frontier
has disappeared through settlement and as the increase of popula-
tion has destroyed the favorable man-land ratio characterizing
the Age of the Frontier, modern institutions are undergoing the
stresses and strains incident to the end of a four-hundred-year
boom.
That part of the book which deals with the effect of the open-
ing of the frontier demonstrates the author's sense of the drama
of the unprecedented outpouring of wealth into the hands of
western mankind and his creative skill in establishing the rela-
tion of the rise of capitalism, individualism, and democracy to
the frontier. The evidence of the dissipation of the frontier
influences illustrates his courage in following through to inevi--
table conclusions which furnish a grim contrast between the back-
ward and forward views of western civilization.
Professor Webb is uniquely qualified to present a study of the
Great Frontier. He was born on the American frontier just be-
fore its closing and has lived in awareness of its influence. His
first important undertaking in scholarship was on a frontier
theme of his native state, The Texas Rangers. His next and best
known work expanded the frontier concept to the region of
The Great Plains. Divided We Stand was a study of his section
and nation in the light of the frontier of the United States. The
culmination of his frontier philosophy of history is reached in the
Great Frontier concept.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/. Accessed October 1, 2014.