Aspects of the American West
Three Essays
Western History
5.5 x 8.5, 88 pp.
Pub Date: 06/01/1976
Elma Dill Russell Spencer Series in the West and Southwest
Price:        $11.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Aspects of the American West

Three Essays

By Joe B. Frantz
Foreword by W. Eugene Hollon

Few historians know and love the American West better than Joe Frantz does, and few have written more critically about it. His addresses and articles, marked by both insight and charm, have brought him much acclaim, as have his books. The three thought-provoking essays in this volume are excellent examples of his work.

The first essay, “Yellowstone National Park: Genesis of an Urban Solution,” was first delivered by Dr. Frantz as the Norman Furniss Lecture at Colorado State University in 1971 and was subsequently published in Montana: The Magazine of Western History. In it he portrays the Yellowstone experience as a “starting block” from which the nation has been “groping toward cooperating with our environment instead of forever and inflexibly demanding its unconditional surrender to our short-tempered and temporary needs and demands.” The force and meaning of this address have increased with every year that has passed since it was first delivered.

“Western Impact on the Nation,” the second essay, was delivered at the banquet of the annual meeting of the Western History Association in Omaha in 1969 and was published in Western Historical Quarterly. The true impact of the West, Frantz writes, is that it has acted as “a beacon to the world illuminating the belief that progress is accidental and miraculous, and unplanned.” Its message, he says, is “the message of the old prospector always looking for one more stake, always dreaming of rich veins that never run out…”

The final essay, “The American West: Child of Federal Subsidy,” was delivered at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in 1963. As Frantz’s most controversial and widely quoted speech, it provoked a storm of criticism. Westerners, Frantz says, did indeed “triumph over monumental obstacles that develop a man, that make him self-reliant, that give him understanding and patience, and that let him know that individual and collective success is possible.” However, he concludes, the Westerner has been subsidized from start to finish by a federal government “which was sometimes benign, sometimes dictatorial, but which always, like a watching parent, was there.”

JOE B. FRANTZ, a native Texan, is author of Gail Borden: Dairyman to a Nation and coauthor of The American Cowboy: Myth and Reality and 6,000 Miles of Fence. His informal history of Texas will appear in the fall of 1976 in the national series of bicentennial histories. Currently he is director of the Oral History of the Johnson Administration and of the Texas State Historical Association


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