The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

In spite of the questions raised about details, the book should prove
a worthwhile one to all students of the region and period who seek to
understand the culture which evolved therein.
Episcopal Theological Seminary
of the Southwest LAWRENCE L. BROWN
The Mississippi Valley Frontier. By John Anthony Caruso.
Indianapolis (The Bobbs-Merrill Company), 1966. Pp. x+375.
Maps, bibliography, index. $8.50.
This is the fourth volume of the author's American Frontier Series
and the first of two projected books on the Mississippi Valley frontier.
The subtitle is The Age of French Exploration and Settlement.
In his preface Caruso appears on the defensive against possible
assaults by scholarly historians. He says that "the notion that history
must be dull in order to prove its accuracy is nowadays recognized as
an academic superstition." The reader will absolve Caruso on this ac-
count. In too many instances his accounts are colorful but his sources
the least desirable.
The book opens with a brief geographical sketch entitled "The
Father of Waters." Following a reference work type of organization,
each of the Indian tribes located in the valley receives individual
treatment. The major French explorers, Jean Nicolet, Pierre Radisson,
Father Louis Hennepin, Robert de La Salle, and others move swiftly
through his pages with all the fascination of their adventures. How-
ever, Caruso has done nothing in the present book to eliminate
criticisms of his earlier works that he is less than discriminating in his
selection of sources. Given a choice between an accepted classic
primary source and a state historical society article, he is apt to
follow the local historian rather than the journals or letters of the
participants.
Except in the case of two, of his characters, the history of the
Southwest is naturally peripheral to his interest. LaSalle's settlement
at Garcitas Creek in Texas comes into, the story but with nothing new
added to the Parkman-Joutel-Bolton accounts. Here he stays with
the accepted sources. Moses Austin's mining experiences in Missouri
occupy a brief space in the book. And here, with typical carelessness,
the author places Austin's mining, as well as his mercantile back-
ground before coming to Missouri, at Richmond, Virginia. A cursory

302

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed July 25, 2014.