Richard Etulain is best known as a scholar for his expertise in the cultural and intellectual—and, especially, literary—history of the American West. With this book, though, he offers a wide-ranging overview of the West’s entire history, from Anasazi Indians to the present.
Since most of us prefer the exciting days of the 19th century to “current events,” you’ll be pleased to know that Etulain does not pass 1900 until the twelfth of 15 chapters. In his handling of this full-scale history, Etulain mixes the common sense that he acquired as a kid on a stock ranch with his book learning—from a one-room school to up to 20 years of teaching at the University of New Mexico. From mentors like Oregon’s Ed Bingham, he has learned balance and objectivity, so he declines to jump on the lumbering bandwagon (more of a creaking carreta) of the revisionist “New Western History.” —Richard H. Dillon