The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Prescott Webb. Essentially he asks what it was that set these two apart
from the general run of American historians and enabled them to
bring forth new and stimulating ideas that had a profound impact
on the study and understanding of the American past.
Billington underscores similarities of background, training, and
temperament, including something of the theory of the psychology
of creativity-a touch that would have pleased both his subjects.
Both men were influenced by the primitive settings in which they
were reared and were able to translate into theory the environments
they felt and understood as part of their own personal experiences.
Lacking extensive formal training in their special subjects, neither
was precommitted to a point of view, but was free to give his own
ideas full sway. Both shared a passion for history and derived
pleasure and inspiration from its study as well as the belief that
the understanding of history vwas the key to human improvement.
Yet neither was a prolific writer. Both read widely and leisurely, pon-
dered the present as well as the past, thought imaginatively, and
when they wrote, which was not frequently, penned analytical rather
than narrative history. Both crossed disciplinary lines to use what-
ever tools were needed, an important clue to their success. Moreover,
Billington believes that a major factor in their success was that both
"were endowed by nature to respond creatively to an external stimu-
lus" (p. 103), that bursts of insight were at some point revealed to
them, theories or germs of theories which they were able to develop
by meaningful reading and thought over many years. In the final
analysis, Billington believes that if their provocative hypotheses
brought fame and recognition, both Turner and Webb also drew
searing criticism, for such in general has been the lot of original,
creative artists who have challenged tradition.
University of Illinois CLARK C. SPENCE
The Wild West. By Don Russell. (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Mu-
seum of Western Art, 1970o. Pp. vi + 150o. Illustrations, bibliog-
raphy, index. $7.95.)
Don Russell of Chicago, whose 1960 book, The Lives and Legends
of Buffalo Bill, is the definitive biography of William Frederick
Cody, was on familiar ground in writing this concise but colorful
history of Wild West shows. Before the era of movies and television


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed October 10, 2015.