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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

sides, the volume seems offered as a textbook, sans notes but with brief
and highly selective bibliographical essays; and one may excuse a great
deal on that score. It does its job, and its felicitous prose may be read to
advantage.
What perplexes, I suppose, is the regional focus. Malone and Etulain
allow a larger West than the "true" one that Robert Athearn presented
posthumously in his book on twentieth-century views of the Rocky
Mountain states (comprising the archetypal "mythic" West). But theirs
is a region nevertheless. Claims are made for its distinctive character,
and they excuse it from discussion in connection with the rest of the
country. This is partially symptomatic of what in my judgment is an un-
happy trend in current historical scholarship about the West, a trend
proceeding from the rebellious desire by some to abandon any connec-
tion with the so-called "frontier hypothesis" of Frederick Jackson Tur-
ner. That effort is all well and good, but it embraces a more general
notion that the whole concept of a frontier of any kind is somehow in-
valid-and this at a time when students of comparative frontiers have
ably demonstrated how much may be learned by setting our national
"westering" experience against the movements from core to hinterland
in other human societies. It would do to remember that our western
geography may be unique and may present peculiar settlement and de-
velopment problems in the context of American history, but that other
people in other places have confronted quite similar problems, and
that the laboratory of the frontier is a fine one for the examination of a
shared human experience. To some extent, the regional approach of
Malone and Etulian, Richard White, Patricia Nelson Limerick, and
others suggests a step or two backwards. But, as an academic discipline,
history is ever the slave to fashion; and when new modes are upon us, it
is good to retrench and wait to see how illuminating any one of them
may be.
University of Oklahoma WILLIAM W. SAVAGE, JR.
Straight Shootzng: What's Wrong with America and How to Fix It. By John
Silber. (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1989. Pp. xvi+336.
Acknowledgments, introduction, conclusion, notes, index. $22.50.)
Anyone who was at UT Austin when John Silber was dean of Arts
and Sciences in the late 196o0s will not be surprised to know that he has
now written a book on how to solve America's problems. Supreme self-
confidence has forever been the mark of the man, and I am frank to
confess that I have always admired him for it.
It is hard to think of him except as a Texan (he was born in San An-
tonio and grew up there) even though he has been in Boston since

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed January 31, 2015.