The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Book Reviews

attempt accurate historical accounts. In Some Strange Corners of Our
Country, Lummis's always elaborate prose seems more than ever under
the influence of the Southwest-that part of America he loved and
about which he was so popular a chronicler. His descriptions of the
scenic beauty of the region and his accounts of the life-styles of the na-
tives links him with travel writers from the English Renaissance to the
present.
Both volumes are handsomely printed and illustrated. Some Strange
Corners of Our Country has the engravings and black-and-white drawings
that were in the original edition of 1891. The style of these illustra-
tions-nineteenth-century romantic-suits Lummis's imaginative con-
tent and his steady Victorian elegance in prose style. Some contempo-
rary readers of Lummis's treatments of the Southwest may smile at his
detailed descriptions, his dramatic verbal portraits of the landscape
and the people-natives and intruders-but these two competently
edited volumes have about them the abiding mystique of the region it-
self. In his introduction to Letters from the Southwest, Byrkit noted that
western artist Frederic Remington considered Lummis "one of the
greatest men in the country today" (p. xlix). Remington's generous
assessment may have been prompted by the artist's appreciation of
Lummis's descriptions of southwestern landscapes. Lummis was good
at what he intended to do: he wanted to share his affection and admi-
ration for the Southwest with his readers. If he waxed overly eloquent,
if he handled truth loosely, if he dramatized himself, he can be for-
given. He isn't alone among writers whose fascination with regions
caused them to present metaphoric visions rather than factually accu-
rate accounts. Writers of popular western fiction should be grateful to
Lummis and to his two editors. In Lummis's letters and essays is the
stuff for keeping the myth of the Southwest alive.
Texas Tech University KENNETH W. DAVIS
William Henry Jackson and the Transformation of the American Landscape.
By Peter B. Hales. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988.
Pp. xii+355. Acknowledgments, introduction, illustrations, epi-
logue, notes, essay on sources, index. $39.95.)
Peter Hales opens his authoritative new biography of William Henry
Jackson, arguably the most important landscape photographer of the
nineteenth century, with a brilliant contrast between two visual images.
The first, a photograph made in 1872 when Jackson worked for the
United States Geological Survey, shows two figures, presumably the
photographer and his assistant, poised on an outcropping of rock that
juts out over a snow-marked mountain wall that sweeps dramatically

557

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed August 29, 2014.