The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

be very useful. In fact, almost any reader will find it easy and enjoy-
able to read. Every state would benefit from such a useful publication.
Central State University JAMES ROGERS
Edmond, Oklahoma
Historians and the American West. Edited by Michael P. Malone.
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983. Pp. xi+449. Fore-
word, acknowledgments, introduction, notes, index. $24.95.)
Harvard professor Oscar Handlin, in his 1979 volume Truth in
History, paints a gloomy picture of historical studies in the United
States. American historians, he declares, are too often functional il-
literates, overspecialized, unable to write the English language. As a
result, the discipline is "in crisis" (p. 3). Historians and the American
West offers a corrective to such negative views. Seventeen contributors,
each a recognized authority in his or her field, give convincing evi-
dence that American history, at least in the West, is alive, vigorous,
and hard at work.
Edited by Michael P. Malone of Montana State University and intro-
duced by Rodman W. Paul of California Institute of Technology, His-
torians and the American West examines the historiography of nine-
teen western states, covering such topics as American Indians (essays by
Herbert T. Hoover and Robert C. Carriker), the fur trade (Gordon
B. Dodds), Manifest Destiny (Dennis E. Berge), transportation (W.
Turrentine Jackson), violence (Richard Maxwell Brown), land use
(William L. Lang), urbanization (Bradford C. Luckingham), and
Mormon history (Thomas G. Alexander). Current trends are reflected
in Sandra L. Myres's "Women in the West" and Frederick C. Luebke's
"Ethnic Minority Groups."
The essays follow a general pattern, beginning with a critical survey
of publications on each topic and concluding with an account of what
still needs doing. In Malone's words, "the aim here is to decide what
has been done, how well it has been done, and what needs to be done"
(p. 2). Each essayist is enthusiastic about his or her subject and eager to
communicate. At the same time, they all see the need to fit their re-
gional interests into what Malone calls "the proper and broader per-
spective" (p. 1). Malone himself is conscious that western historians are
"noticeably slow" in taking up the new methodologies that "created
a ferment" in the discipline in the 197os (p. 1o). Paul, on the other
hand, wonders if "in the current zeal for numbers and social theory,
we are forgetting the importance of style, clarity, and grace" (p. vii).

212

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed July 29, 2014.