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

Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly

William Rowley contributes an examination of political reform in the
region. In the fifth and final section of the book, Fred Erisman and
H. Wayne Morgan write on the impact Western art and literature have
had on our perception of the region and the changes that have ensued
within the past century.
The history of the twentieth-century West is a complex one, yet one
fertile in research opportunities. As these essays show, interdisciplinary
studies are and will continue to be important in helping us to under-
stand the region. Conversely, however, they cause us to ponder if we
shall ever be able to synthesize the history of the twentieth-century
West with the simplicity Turner did the nineteenth. In summation,
though, Nash and Etulain have gathered together an impressive collec-
tion of essays that serve as a reflection on research thus far done and
point to areas for additional research. For this reason alone, the book is
Ronald Reagan and the Publzc Lands: America's Conservatzon Debate, 1979-
1984. By C. Brant Short. (College Station: Texas A&M Univer-
sity Press, 1989. Pp. xi+ 178. Preface, notes, bibliography, index.
$27.50, cloth; $13.95, paper.)
The idea of progress, as it developed in most Western societies nearly
four centuries ago, served as an animating force in formulating a cri-
tique challenging established power structures such as the church, the
aristocracy, and the monarchy. In America, without a long-established
institutional apparatus, progress became a guiding force for human be-
havior. By the mid-twentieth century progress was being equated with
development, with liberalism, and with the Democratic party. A decade
later, however, conservatives began emerging as the party of progress
while liberals, thanks to the growing impact of the writings of Aldo
Leopold, Rachel Carson, and others, started to accept their interdepen-
dent ecological ideas. They now strove to curtail growth and prevent
pollution of the environment. Legislation enacted in the i96os and
197os, beginning with the Wilderness and Multiple Use Acts of 1964
and culminating in 1976 with the Federal Land Policy and Manage-
ment Act and the National Forest Management Acts, called for land
use planning and consultation with all parties with interests in federally
owned lands. The Democratic party and liberals in general were es-
pousing an ecological conscience and endorsing a land ethic in the
management of federally owned lands.
Thanks to mounting inflation and a growing energy crisis during the
Carter administration, Ronald Reagan and his New Right allies called


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 30, 2015.