The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954 Page: 138
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
With the appearance of The Great Frontier, Webb takes his
place beside the European historians, Oswald Spengler (Decline
of the West) and Arnold J. Toynbee (A Study of History), in their
judgment that significant changes are taking place in the pattern
of western institutions. The trio of western culture historians
reach compatible conclusions starting from different viewpoints
and pursuing individual pathways. Toynbee looking from the
heights of the time and place of all civilizations offers his "chal-
lenge of environment" hypothesis, including the effect of new
ground in the genesis of civilizations, which is close kin to the
frontier thesis under another name. Spengler and Webb are
linked by their mutual concern with western civilization and a
coincidence of chronological demarcation of historical epochs,
Spengler's full development of "summer" period covering the
same span as Webb's Age of the Frontier.
Although Professor Webb has produced a work of synthesis
and integration furnishing a unifying principle of modern his-
tory which is complete in itself, his book may prove to be as
important for what it suggests as what it has presented. The
Great Frontier promises to be the impetus for a new school of
Great Frontier historians in the way the American frontier thesis
of Frederick Jackson Turner inspired scholarship in the restricted
field of American history. The difference between the two fron-
tier hypotheses is the difference between an easel painting and a
mural on the same theme. Turner's followers adopted the central
idea and worked out their own compositions. Webb laid out his
mural on the grand scale of western civilization, painting in his
central and controlling design and indicating the spaces to be
developed by future painters of the historical scene.
From the standpoint of interaction between the Great Frontier
and the Metropolis (Europe), with emphasis on the side of the
frontier, Webb has devoted major attention to the institutions of
individualism and capitalism. Three chapters grouped under the
title, "What the Frontier Touched," are guideposts to the areas
open for other historians.
The course of the individual as he "made his transit across
the Great Frontier" is traced in a chapter, "The Parabola of
Individualism." As anticipated by the author, this promises to be
a controversial subject. The individual is seen emerging from
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954, periodical, 1954; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/m1/160/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.