Many people have lamented that the western history has of late been a field of diminishing expectations. The two books attempts to take an insight investigation into this concept and try to find out if this point is true or false. The issues being discussed in the following books revolve around the commonly accepted notion that the year 1890 marked the closing of the American frontier and the end of an era made unique by Indian wars, border skirmishes, outlaws, mining booms, land barons and pioneers. (Anne M. Butler & Michael J. Lansing, 2007)The books have a detailed account of the problems and conflicts bestowed to us by the forces of conquest that have shaped our relationships with the land and its resources and the people who live in the American West. (Limerick, 1996) The books have a solid research, richness of detail and clarity of style. These books are realistic narratives that reveal the banker behind the fur-clad trapper, the federal support propping up the steely eyed, self-sufficient rancher and the claims lawyer as the principal beneficiary of land legislation. The books also provide an interesting and insightful overview of the west, past and present. They also shade light on a host of contemporary problems from the land use to the porosity of the American/Mexican border. (Limerick, 1996) Limerick’s work for instance is an illustration of the pronouncement that ignorance of the past condemns us to relieve it. American West: A Concise History by Anne M. Butler and Michael J. Lansing on the other hand traces events from the pre-history to the present day. In this book we are able to get a comprehensive and concise history of the American West. It also explores the complex interactions which exist between and among the different cultures existing in the American West. (Limerick, 1996)
The history of west America is rich in events and transitions which are common to other parts of the world and some only unique to the west America.
The two books of history are similar in some ways on how they tackle the history of the West America. However, there are some dissimilarities especially on the styles which are used by the authors to bring about their points. Generally, the authors give a good account on the events that took place in the history of west America.
Both books of history on West America are grounded in attention to race, class, gender, and the environment. They take a look at the original inhabitants of west America and how the changes have occurred. Both books also cover how the original inhabitants reacted towards the entry of new races and assimilation of their culture. The books also focus mainly on the social, economic and political forces that have shaped the lived experiences of the diverse westerners and influenced the patterns of the western history. These events are covered in a systematic way that ensures that there is no event that is left unaccounted for.
American West: A Concise History by Anne M. Butler and Michael J. Lansing has a set of chronologically organized and well informed events based on the latest scholarly materials. This makes the work very interesting to readers especially those who are interested in having a comprehensive insight on the order of events in the history of West America. Limerick on the other hand uses a non chronological approach in her work which may be a bother to some of the readers. Limerick’s work does not contain materials which are based on the latest scholarly articles. Its main focus is on the history of the West American.
The popular image of the western history is the creation of myth which is common among the researchers who are trying to study the western history. Limerick’s work debunks the popular myths and the misperceptions which are surrounding the settlement of the American West and refute the theory that western history was a period marked by the opening and closing of a frontier. This author on the other hand does not adequately and successfully integrate the various topics which are covered in the work. This makes the point of the author become vague since she jumps from one topic to another without properly tackling a single topic exhaustively. The style in the book is varied and it ranges from intellectual to casual and journalistic style. However, considering the book, a Concise history, there is a clear portrayal events, a rich choice of style and a comprehensive account on each event that took place in the history of the western America.
Limerick in her work explains that the conquest of the Trans-Mississippi West is an ongoing economically driven process. She focuses on the west as a physical place rather than as a mythical ideal as opposed to the book, A concise history on the other hand has most of the arguments mythical. The book gives a demonstration on how the frontier was not closed but continues to date. There is also a clear insight and overview of the conquerors of the West and the obstacles that they faced from the native inhabitants of the west. The book also explains the intent of those who invaded the west.
The book legacy of Conquest does an excellent analysis of examining the past problems of the west and showing on how these problems have remained unsolved. Some of the problems which have remained unsolved include the arguments between the ranchers and the federal government over the grazing fields. (Limerick, 1996) However the book, a concise history attempts portray the attempts which have been made by the government in order to try and find solutions the problems which are faced by the westerners.
The book, Legacy of Conquest is highly recommended to students of the American History. However, it also has its shortcomings. Some of the shortcomings include the excessive use of metaphors by the author especially in the early chapters of the book which makes the book look like an opinion piece of work rather than a historical piece of work. The author however does a very good job in trying to combine both the primary and secondary sources into an interesting piece of work. (Limerick, 1996) A concise history on the other hand is also a very good book for studying the history of west America as it gives a good account of the events as they occur. Both books are good but should be studied alongside other historical books so as to ensure that the information acquired is accurate and up to date.
Anne M. Butler & Michael J. Lansing The American West: A Concise History. 2001
Limerick, Patricia Nelson, “The New Significance of the American West,” Clyde A. Milner, ed. A New Significance: Re-envisioning the History of the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996),