The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 106
.Southwestern Historical Quarterly
howling wilderness, held its grip on the European imagination despite
the profound changes that occurred in America after the European
invasion. Its substance existed in European thinking long before dis-
covery and it continued to live a life of its own only tenuously asso-
ciated with happenings in America.
But for Billington the relations between the European image and
the real America were crucial. Perhaps immigrants could have been
drawn from Europe no matter the regnant perception of America,
but there can be little question that the image of the land of promise
affected the process of population transferral. From shipping and rail-
road propaganda to the immigrant letters that reached European
villagers hungry for news of their neighbors who had abandoned the
Old World for the New, the image of America served to lure avid
settlers. Although the image was a European creation and undoubt-
edly played a role in the internal development of Continental and
British culture, for Billington its major function was to stimulate the
flood of human population toward the western horizon.
The high point of the book can be found in Billington's use of the
extensive European popular literature dealing with the American
West. John H. Elliott may be right in arguing that the New World
remained a minor element in the European imagination during the
early years of discovery and settlement, but certainly by the nineteenth
century the image of America had reached the level of an obsession.
Frontiersmen, cowboys, gunslingers, Indians, both savage and virtu-
ous, populated a literary genre irresistible to European readers. Bil-
lington made the most of it. He could never pass up a good story, and
he found them in superabundance in the gorgeous frontier tales of
Karl F. May, Thomas Mayne Reid, and a host of other European
writers. The result is a joy to read: a book of exhaustive research,
sensible insight, and that puckish distance that only mature wisdom
Indiana University BERNARD W. SHEEHAN
Time of Hope, Time of Despair: Black Texans During Reconstruc-
tion. By James M. Smallwood. (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat
Press, i981. Pp. x+2o. Preface, introduction, map, notes, index.
Two major themes are visible throughout James M. Smallwood's
study of Texas during Reconstruction: black striving and white
violence. Any black assertion of freedom met with white resistance.
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/126/ocr/: accessed July 30, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.