The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000 Page: 123

Book Reviews

prose and interesting caveats will pique their interest. With these few exceptions,
I would recommend Valley of Shining Stone to all of those whose souls have been
captivated by Abiquiu's natural beauty.
Nebraska Wesleyan University SANDRA K. MATHEWS-LAMB
Frederick Jackson Turner: Strange Roads Going Down. By Allan G. Bogue. (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1998. Pp. xviii+557. Illustrations, preface,
appendix, notes, selected works, selected bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8061-
3039-3- $34.95, cloth.)
By any standard Frederick Jackson Turner, though he died more than half a
century ago, is one of the most renowned American historians. To this very day,
his name and 1893 essay, "The Significance of the Frontier in American
History," are familiar to students of American history as well as to those in relat-
ed disciplines. These same individuals would have trouble naming some of his
contemporaries and their prominent contributions. Yet Turner produced only
two books, one published several years after his death. None of his writings have
withstood the test of time. Turner himself was continually revising and modify-
ing his views. Indeed, he came to doubt the validity of his 1893 essay and spent
most of his career examining the significance of sections in American history.
How then does such a scholar rate the attention generations of historians and
others have bestowed upon him?
As Allan Bogue in his well-written and cogently organized biography indicates,
Turner, like Benjamin Franklin, contained within himself a harmonious human
multitude. In his case he almost literally exuded suggestions and ideas as to how
the field of American history could be developed and expanded. His focus was
always on the American West which he considered a changing process starting
with the frontier regions of the thirteen colonies and moving further west with
succeeding generations. Within this context he encouraged students to examine
a broad range of topics: immigration, diplomacy, land policy, Indians, the fur
trade, transportation-the list goes on. The only theme he did not suggest was
gender, or the role of women in western history.
As an historian, Turner was always immersed but never completely absorbed.
He enjoyed the good life, always finding ways to avoid meeting deadlines, involv-
ing himself in academic matters and affairs of the American Historical
Association. He worked closely with graduate students and was an inspiring men-
tor. He had the mind but not the will; he had the talent but not the strength to
be a great scholar. He turned out a group of outstanding Ph.D.'s, Merle Curti
and Carl Becker among them. A writer of rare merit, a master of style which for
clarity, if not for precision, conveyed suggestions that have rarely been equalled.
Yet little or nothing Turner wrote has withstood scholarly scrutiny. His personali-
ty, his writing style, and the ideas he expounded in numerous articles and
speeches attracted favorable and widespread attention despite a paucity of evi-
dence to support them.
Bogue carefully examines these and other aspects of Turner's endeavors, fol-
lowing him from his early life in Portage, Wisconsin, to the university at
Madison, to his graduate work at Johns Hopkins, and then to his teaching career



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