The American Far West in the 20th Century (Nonfiction)

Earl Pomeroy, Yale University Press, $35, Hardcover.
Earl Pomeroy, Yale University Press, $35, Hardcover.

Richard W. Etulain has rescued and edited the last manuscript of the late University of Oregon professor. Pomeroy proves his thesis that the 20th century shaped our modern West more than the romanticized 19th century did. The region swung from rural to urban, while the rugged individualists of the 1800s yielded to community and corporate growth, fostered by the federal government. With its astatistics and whopping 128 pages of end notes, this book will better serve historians, though laymen will find it a rich source of information on the growth of the West despite its many setbacks. The early boom in Plains agriculture fizzled out in droughts such as the Dust Bowl. California’s wheat boom died but was succeeded by horticulture (oranges) and viticulture (wine grapes). One major flaw of the book’s scope is Pomeroy’s stubborn refusal to include Texas in his survey, insisting that it is a Southern, not a Western, state.

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