Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The most vigorous and eloquent advocates of the so-called "New West" point
of view include historians Patricia Nelson Limerick, Richard White, and the late
Wallace Stegner. Like leading "Old Westers" such as Theodore Roosevelt and
filmmakerJohn Ford, "New Westers" also believe in the importance of reimagin-
ing America's frontier experience, and analyzing the role it played in the matu-
ration of the United States and the self-image of its people.
In broad terms, however, New Westers would like to see more emphasis on
ethnic diversity in western history, the truth behind myths such as the idea that
"rain follows the plow," and the terrible cost of Manifest Destiny in terms of envi-
ronmental devastation and the destruction of the cultural identity of Native
While discussing popular culture, the author rightly gives credit to authors
Cormac McCarthy, John Graves, Larry McMurtry, and Elmer Kelton, and
actor/filmmaker Clint Eastwood for helping the paradigm-shift along while still
making the Old West an exciting and appealing idea.
Inevitably, there are gaps. The original cowboy chroniclers, Charles Siringo,
Andy Adams, and Teddy Blue Abbott, are not mentioned at all. There is too
much focus on Garth Brooks and too little on music archivist John Lomax. His-
torians Walter Prescott Webb andJ. Frank Dobie are mentioned only in passing.
The author's case for developing new models of western literature and history is
not well-served by a sometimes poorly supported framework for the models of
Overall, however, this is a thoughtfully conceived survey of contemporary west-
ern literature, culture, and attitudes. The author has clearly done a lot of deep
thinking about the West, and has had a lot of good company with him.
Austin JESSE SUBLETT
Reclaiming the Arid West: The Career of Francis G. Newlands. By William D. Rowley.
Foreword by Martin Ridge and Walter Nugent. (Bloomington: Indiana Uni-
versity Press, 1996. Pp. xiii+199. Foreword, acknowledgments, notes, index,
list of illustrations. ISBN 0-253-33002-5. $27.50, cloth).
The turn-of-the-century American West was a small world, geography notwith-
standing. In large measure, those few individuals who controlled regional re-
sources dominated the economic, social, and political life. Nevada, with its
wealth of resources, limited population, and geographic proximity to California,
was especially susceptible to elite control. In this biography of Francis G. New-
lands, William D. Rowley defines the landscape of power and influence in Neva-
da and the West, utilizing a wide variety of sources to present a well-rounded
portrait of the man most associated with western reclamation.
Newlands was not born to privilege; rather, he became enmeshed in Califor-
nia society after a difficult childhood, an itinerant legal career, and a fortuitous
marriage. But he took to wealth and status naturally, becoming an integral part
of father-in-law William Sharon's San Francisco financial empire. Following
Sharon's death, Newlands moved to Nevada, settled in Reno, and immediately
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed August 22, 2014.