The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984

Book Reviews

vote to an American who probably was a decent fellow, though one
suspects he could write little more than his name. One wonders how
many other enlistees in the trans-Mississippi theatre wrote such copi-
ous letters home, much less letters that probed-with detached equa-
nimity, of course-the ramifications of Confederate policies on
British, French, Mexican, Brazilian, and Nicarauguan commerce and
politics. For these reasons, and because it is well edited, the book suc-
ceeds. But it opens up a number of questions. For that, ultimately,
historians will thank Goyne and her Coreths.
Nogales, Mexico GLEN E. LICH
The Common Landscape of America, 1580-1845. By John R. Stilgoe.
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982. Pp. xi+429. Preface, ac-
knowedgements, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $35.00,
cloth; $12.95, paper.)
John R. Stilgoe's The Common Landscape of America, 1580-1845,
the winner of the 1982 Parkman Prize for literary distinction in his-
tory, is a book of exceptional scope and depth. Broadly integrating
information from a variety of fields, the author charts the patterns of
the evolution of shaped space in this country. He sees the ordering of
North America in this period as the result of the implementation of
traditional, ordinary, or "common" ideas in the way Americans built,
farmed, and otherwise harnessed their newly acquired land. In the
evolution of space, Stilgoe sees articulated the patterns of life of ordi-
nary individuals who sculpted America with "common sense, not the
doubtful innovation of professional designers" (p. x). He is able to
present American space as the result of generations of knowledge
passed along via the forms and structures of early European settlers
who placed them upon the land they harnessed for their purposes.
The idea of "tracing space" as a way to view the past is not new;
John Brinkerhoff Jackson and others whom Stilgoe acknowledges
have pioneered this route. What makes Stilgoe's work unique is that,
from the evolution of "landscape," or farmed land, in this country, he
is able to elicit the views of everyday people who lived on the land.
Among other things, he articulates clearly the tension that encroaching
"artifice," or proto-industrial structures, caused in the minds of Ameri-
cans during the first half of the nineteenth century.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/. Accessed September 22, 2014.