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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Book Reviews

the old West. Many taught high school briefly, worked for historical so-
cieties, served as editors, and enjoyed professional help from their
wives. Of the fifty-seven, forty-one held doctorates, mostly from uni-
versities in the "heartland" of the nation (Wisconsin, Chicago, Kansas,
and Iowa). These historians generally were Turnerian in approach and
researched and wrote on the region of their birth. The largest number
focused on the Midwest. Fewer than 25 percent of the total could be
considered major interpreters of the western scene. The overwhelming
majority-academics and nonacademics-were "narrative" historians.
Fifty percent served as presidents of historical organizations (four as
presidents of the American Historical Association). Five on the list
studied with Turner, four with Paxson, and two with Bolton.
The volume is one of several sourcebooks in the Greenwood Press
bio-bibliographical series. The book would have profited from an inter-
pretive introduction and the inclusion of portraits, and bibliographical
entries with the essays would have reflected professional growth and
shifting interests if they had been arranged chronologically. A major
work of this calibre naturally has warts. Several sketches lack biographi-
cal information, publications were missed in the bibliographical sweep,
and purists will quibble over including so many nonacademics on the
list. On the plus side, the volume has been carefully edited and contains
a useful index. Historians of the American Frontier will appeal to a wide
audience. It is a handy reference book, a valuable collection of histo-
riographical essays, and a highly readable survey of the writers who
probed, described, and wove an aura of romance around an enduring
theme in our national experience.
University of Arizona HARWOOD P. HINTON
Correspondence of James K. Polk, Vol. VII, January-August, 1844. Edited
by Wayne Cutler and Associate Editor James P. Cooper, Jr. (Nash-
ville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1989. Pp. xxxiv+561. Preface,
notes, index. $32.50.)
This welcome addition to the Correspondence of James K. Polk concen-
trates on Democratic politics during the months prior to the party's
nominating convention in May 1844 and on the initial stages of the
presidential campaign. As previous ones, this volume focuses fiercely
on politics, at least for these eight months. None sheds light on Polk as
planter-businessman or as husband, though enticing hints suggest that
his wife Sarah maintained her role as political adviser (pp. 45, 85).
Again Wayne Cutler and his associates, now housed at the University of
Tennessee, have done a generally excellent editorial job. It still disturbs
me, however, that they do not provide a rationale for the selection of
letters they publish. They do include a calendar, which enables scholars


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 5, 2016.

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