Heritage, Summer 2003 Page: 32
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Mapping the West: America's
Westward Movement, 15241890
By Paul Cohen, Rizzoli International
Reviewed by Katherine R. Goodwin,
cartographic archivist, The University
of Texas at Arlington
In Mapping the West, Paul Cohen has
produced a beautiful and informative book
of maps on the American West, that territory
stretching westward from the Mississippi River to the
Pacific Ocean, including Texas. Teaming with private collectors,
dealers, scholars, as well as librarians, curators, and cartographic
specialists in some of the nation's leading institutions,
Cohen and his contributors have selected 65 extraordinary
maps. The maps and accompanying essays depict America's
best-known frontier from the discovery of its Pacific perimeter
in 1535 by Hernan Cortes to 1890 when the United States
Census Bureau officially marked an end to that designation.
General Land Office in 1890, measuring
The book includes 54 short and readable
essays, or commentaries, in 11
chapters dealing with various periods in
the history of the region. Much of the
work of the author and contributors
refers to the authoritative study by
Wheat. In addition, the introduction by
collector extraordinaire, David Rumsey,
is a most appealing beginning that provides
insight to the history of the region
as well as pointing out the way the maps
and essays provide an understanding of the cartographic
development of the American West.
There are a few distractions from an otherwise excellent
book. One is the lack of consistency in citations for the varied
manuscript and printed publications, and another is the
omission of footnotes. The problem of the use of a proper
citation format is not unusual. The omission of footnotes
may have been deliberate as the author expressed a desire to
make the work available to a wider audience, and many
non-scholars have a problem with the intrusion
The maps in the Cohen book are a combination of this form of research validation into the text.
of manuscript and printed maps that are repro- The bibliography is a bit limited, and this
reviewer finds it most unusual that the author
duced in color... The crispness and clarity of the would write on the manuscript map produced by
reproductions are surprising good and a credit Francisco Alvarez Barreiro in 1729 without makto
the craftsmen at New York's Rizzoli ing note of Jack Jackson's Imaginary Kingdom:
_ the craf.tsmen .at. New Y..ok..'s. Texas as seen by the Rivera and Rubi Military
The maps and essays represent the first look at mapping of
the West since Carl I. Wheat's monumental six-volume work,
Mapping the Trans-Mississippi West, 1540-1861, published in
the late 1950s and early 1960s. The maps in the Cohen book
are a combination of manuscript and printed maps that are
reproduced in color with many of them spreading to two pages.
The crispness and clarity of the reproductions are surprising
good and a credit to the craftsmen at New York's Rizzoli
International Publications. The smallest details in even the
largest of the maps can be clearly seen with a magnifying glass.
That is especially important as a number of these maps in their
original state measure more than three feet in width, with the
largest, Map of the United States and Territories, produced by the
Expeditions, 1727 and 1767 (Austin: TSHA,
1995). The index, however, is useable with many
map titles sharing the space.
Mapping the West is beautiful to behold and a delight to read.
Scholars and non-scholars alike will enjoy having this book as
a part of their library and most likely will have it out to peruse
at a moment's whim.
Publishers should send complimentary copies of
books on Texas history, architecture, preservation, or
archeology to: Texas Historical Foundation, P.O. Box
50314, Austin, TX 78763.
Individuals interested in reviewing books should
send a letter indicating an area of interest to the
HERITAGE SUMMER 2003
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2003, periodical, Summer 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45377/m1/32/: accessed June 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.