The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Southzeetern Hzstowc'al Quarterly

The literature of the American West often begins with the Spaniards flashing
through during the Age of the Conquistadores searching for golden cities, only
to retreat in the face of adobe pueblos and buffalo-hide tents. Gold lust in-
fected not just Spanish but French and Anglo adventurers as well. It is that
search for those chimerical riches, set within the context of an east-west avenue
of communication, that is the focus of Quwvna
William Brandon's book opens on a pre-Columbian setting where sedentary
Indians, east and west, are connected to each other through the agency of the
wandering nations that inhabited the intervening Great Plains. This short sec-
tion serves to introduce both the region's vastness and some of' its principal
characters-the native peoples who aided, retarded, profited from, and were
victimized by European exploration.
The bulk of the book Is devoted to discussing that European exploration.
Spaniards and Frenchmen both came to the region of the Santa Fe Trail, Bran-
don tells us, to find riches. Filled with fabulous stories, Spaniards turned east
onto the plains after searching New Mexico in vain. Certain of the wealth of
New Mexican mines, Frenchmen moved south along the Mississippi and then
turned west along its tributaries seeking rich Santa Fe. Their mutual disap-
pointments were lessened by the profits from trade in pelts, hides, and Indian
slaves. Still, the dream of riches at the far side of the plains remained, and
eventually influenced the Anglo-Americans who came on the scene in the nine-
teenth century.
There are aspets of' Quvia that are troubling. The author occasionally
takes off on tangents that, despite the reader's efforts at interpretation, offer
little to the argument. Also disruptive is his omission of a bibliography and his
reliance on unnumbered endnotes that are only identified by the page to which
they belong. Although Brandon's work in numerous primary and secondary
sources is evident, it is sometimes difficult to sort out certain citations. Most
disturbing, however, is that the book effectively ends in the mid-eighteenth
century. Only the last twenty pages are devoted to the period between 1750
and 1820.
Quvra is at its best in describing the French explorations of the eighteenth
century. The author also makes convincing arguments regarding the use ex-
plorers and merchants made of misconceptions and rumors to advance their
own interests. Less satisfying is Brandon's effort to make the Santa Fe Trail a
central part of the story. The explorations are too extensive and lead to too
many dead ends to sustain any idea of an identifiable route.
Texas General Land O/ffe JEsJS F. DE LA TEJA
Maps of the Santa Fe Tadl. By Gregory M. Franzwa. Foreword by Manuel Lujan,
Jr. (St. Louis: The Patrice Press, 1989. Pp. viii+ 196. Foreword, acknowl-
edgments, introductory essay, maps, photographs, index. $24.95, cloth;
$29.95, looseleaf binder.)
Greg Franzwa worked with and lobbied the federal government for two
years until the Santa Fe National Historical Trail became a reality in 1987.
Much of the background fieldwork that he had undertaken on the trail ap-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed December 25, 2014.