Monday, January 13, 2020

My Washington Times Review of 'El Dorado: A History Of The American West'

The Washington Times published my review of Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West.

H.W. Brands opens his book on the exploration and settling of the American West by noting that any work of history must have a beginning and an end.

“This one commences with the Louisiana Purchase at the start of the nineteenth century, when the United States first gained a foot-hold — a very large one — beyond the Mississippi. It ends in the early 20th century, when the West had become enough like the East to make the Western experience most comprehensible as a piece of America whole rather than a thing apart,” Mr. Brands writes in the prologue of “Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West.”

“Western dreams didn’t die; Hollywood and Silicon Valley would be built on such dreams. But the dreams were no longer as distinctively Western as they once were.”

 “Dreams of El Dorado” is the story of the migrants, missionaries and mountain men, as well as the rovers, ranchers and railroad men who explored and settled the American West.

Mr. Brands recounts the story behind the Louisiana Purchase. Negotiated by President Thomas Jefferson, the purchase of Louisiana created the American West as it would be understood for the next century, Mr. Brands tells us.

“Only a comparative handful Americans — traders, working out of St. Louis, mostly — had penetrated much beyond the Mississippi into the new West. Otherwise Louisiana was terra incognita to nearly all but the Indians who called it home. Jefferson set about filling in the blank space on the map between the great river and the crest of the Rocky Mountains,” Mr. Brands writes.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link: 

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