The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988 Page: 268

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

a state of mind. The West has become an expression of a powerful na-
tional dream. The West of the Imagination and The Mythic West look re-
spectively at the artistic and literary origins of an imagined West and
the ways those dreams have been reshaped in our own time. Read to-
gether they explore the mental geography of what may be the most
cherished place in the American soul.
The Goetzmanns' West of the Imagination might be described as a use-
ful companion to an outstanding PBS series of the same name. But this
book is much more than a trail guide for video pilgrims. In superbly
illustrated chapters, the authors probe the ways artists, writers, photo-
graphers, film makers, and an eager public sought to interpret the
West. The Goetzmanns illuminate the creative tension between eastern
expectations and western realities. Readers are treated to fresh views of
well-known works by George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, Alfred Jacob Miller,
and Charles M. Russell. As with the television series, the book is filled
with enlightening observations about often-neglected interpreters of
the western experience. The chapter on California is a fine example,
drawing attention to artists like E. Hall Martin and Charles Christian
Nahl. Texas readers will find comments on Alamo paintings to be espe-
cially valuable. In the tradition of the Great Surveys, the Goetzmanns
carry us over ground familiar and now seen with fresh eyes.
If The West of the Imagination searches out the beginnings of an often-
elusive West, The Mythic West puts those illusions up against sometimes
harsh realities. Drawing upon both personal experience and a lifetime
of western scholarship, Robert G. Athearn takes us from Dakota small
towns to Colorado dude ranches-all to test the presence and vitality of
the western mystique. He devotes generous chapters to the fictional
West, the tourist West, and the "colonial" West. Athearn's provocative
analysis of economic and cultural colonialism is especially sharp, illus-
trating the conflict between romantic individualism and the need for
cooperative enterprise. What Athearn finds is a West constantly re-
creating itself, struggling to find some sense of regional identity. More
important, he shows a western image as powerful today as it was a cen-
tury and a half ago.
Youngstown State University JAMES P. RONDA
Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt. By Judith Paterson. (Aus-
tin: Eakin Press, 1986. Pp. xxii+274. Forewords, preface, acknowl-
edgments, photographs, endnotes, bibliography, index. $16.95.)
Marguerite Rawalt, a South Texan who spent her career in Washing-
ton, D.C., as a tax attorney and women's rights activist, amassed more


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988, periodical, 1987/1988; Austin, Texas. ( accessed March 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.