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

Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly

plicity and beauty. Western resorts, once built to insulate visitors from the
harsh realities of an unfamiliar landscape, now paid tribute to their surround-
ings, mimicking them in color, form, and texture. This new attitude toward
travel, according to Hyde, helped plant the seeds of America's emerging mod-
ern culture.
Yet Hyde's conclusions are weakened by the very focus of her study. As she
points out several times, only America's wealthiest citizens-a small fraction of
the population-could afford to travel in the West before 1920. Her suggestion
that upper-class attitudes were emblematic of trends within the culture at large
tilts the cultural scales toward the upper end. Because the West has become ac-
cessible to Americans of nearly every class in recent years, it would be useful to
know more about the elite's precise relationship to Hyde's embryonic "national
Still, Hyde has ingeniously built upon the work of such scholars as Henry
Nash Smith, Earl Pomeroy, William H. Goetzmann, Roderick Nash, J. B. Jack-
son, Yi-Fu Tuan, and Barbara Novak while at the same time exploring a wide
range of primary sources: diaries, letters, novels, paintings, photographs, and
an intriguing array of tourist guides published under the auspices of the major
railroad companies. In sum, An American Viwon is a well-researched and highly
readable book and an original contribution to our growing understanding of
the place of the American West in the national consciousness.
University of Texas at Austin EDWARD D. HARRIS
Cowboys of the Americas. By Richard W. Slatta. (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1990. Pp. xiv+306. Acknowledgments, introduction, black-and-
white plates, color plates, conclusions, notes, glossary, bibliographical
essay, select bibliography, index. $35.)
Among the most fair, helpful, and well-researched modern books on the
American cowboy is David Dary's Cowboy Culture: A Saga of Fve Centurzes (1981)
and among even newer books on the subject is Richard Slatta's spectacular Cow-
boys of the Amerzcas, a lavishly illustrated and beautifully written work of sustain-
ing value.
Slatta's cowboys are not only the familiar ones of the western U.S. and of
Canada, but also the vaquero of Mexico, the gaucho of the Argentine pampas,
the llanero of Venezuela, the huaso of the Chilean Andes, even the panzolo of
Hawaii, and the five centuries of Spanish influence behind them all.
Slatta takes an interesting planning approach to this book, treating the story
of the cowboy more or less like an old "oater" movie-complete with short,
punch vignettes, flashbacks, close-ups, wide-angle views, heroes and villains,
and a peaceful ending at twilight.
His hemispheric view, he admits dictated certain criteria: more attention is
paid to cowboy groups who achieved national or at least regional status; the
relative size of the cattle industry to a region's economy gives more emphasis, in
the U.S., to Texas and the Great Plains than to, say, California.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 28, 2016.

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