Colony and empire : the capitalist transformation of the American West /
William G. Robbins.
Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, c1994.
xvi, 255 p. ; 24 cm.
0700606459 (alk. paper)
More Details
Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, c1994.
0700606459 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical (p. 199-243) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1994-09-15:
Robbins (American Forestry, Univ. of Nebraska Pr., 1985) focuses on changes in the American West during the last 150 years. These changes brought the West from a region of traders and hunters to an area driven by industrialism. Mechanization had a profound social and economic effect on all areas of Western life from agriculture to mining. Dividing his work into three parts, Robbins analyzes the myth and reality of the West, including the effects of proximity to Mexican and Canadian borders: he zeroes in on the capitalistic expansion of the West and develops comparisons between the South and West and the country and the city. The epilog discusses the emerging New West and its ties to the past, and there are extensive chapter notes with citations to other materials. This work will appeal to scholars and specialists in Western U.S. history.-Dorothy Lilly, Grosse Pointe North H.S. Lib., Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1995-04:
"The history of the northern West in the last decades of the nineteenth century is a story in the exercise of power and influence, of decisions made in faraway places, of chicanery and hucksterism, of limited local autonomy, and of grass roots suffering when the bets were called in banking centers in New York, Boston, London, Paris, and Berlin." So concludes Robbins (Oregon State Univ.) in this collection of "new Western history" essays. To those who would highlight the western frontier of agency and opportunity, Robbins counters with myriad examples of external control and perpetual dependency. The last hundred years or so of western history is primarily a story of externally imposed boom and bust as an expanding world economic system subsidized and then abandoned prairie wheat, mountain silver, Pacific coast lumber, and southern California defense production. The best portions of this book look at variations on this theme of capitalist transformation, as the author compares both the West's experiences and its myths with those of Mexico, Canada, and the American South. Drawing primarily upon a burgeoning secondary literature, this provocative book is richly footnoted. Upper-division undergraduate through faculty. D. Lindstrom; University of Wisconsin-Madison
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 1994
Choice, April 1995
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Main Description
"A forceful analysis of the role of capitalism in the history of the American West. This is an important contribution to the new western history that should be read by both historians and residents of the American West". -- Journal of American History. "This exciting book should take its place on the shelf next to Patricia Limerick's The Legacy of Conquest". -- Forest & Conservation History.
Unpaid Annotation
'This book is clearly written, original, and challenging. One of its major contributions to the 'new western history' is to show the importance of looking outward rather than inward, connecting regional change in the West to larger processes of world economic development.'--Carl Abbott, author of The Metropolitan Frontier: Cities in the Modern West
Main Description
Popular writers and historians alike have perpetuated the powerful myth of the rugged-individualist single-handedly transforming the American West. In reality, William Robbins counters, it was the Guggenheims and Goulds, the Harrimans and Hearsts, and the Morgans and Mellons who masterminded what the West was to become. Remove the romance, he shows, and a darker West emerges-a colonial-like region where "industrial statesmen," aided by eastern U.S. and European capital, manipulated investments in pursuit of private gain while controlling wage-earning cowboys and miners. Robbins argues that understanding the impact of capitalism on the West-from the fur trade era to the present-is essential to understanding power, influence, and change in the region. Showing how global capitalism had a more profound impact on the modern West than individual initiative, he explores violence and racism along the Texas/Mexican border; colonial-style company towns in Montana and the Northwest; contrasting traditions astride the U.S./Canadian boundary; pace-setting agribusiness and exploitation of labor in California; the growing power of metropolitan centers and dependence of rural areas; and the emergence of a sizable federal influence. To grasp the essence of the Wests dramatic transformation, Robbins contends, you must look to the mainstays of material relations in the region-the perpetually changing character of political and economic culture; the inherent instability of resources; and the larger constellations of capitalist decision making. Consequently, he shows shy Western success and failure, prosperity and misfortune, and expansion and decline were all inseparably linked to the evolution of capitalism at the local, regional, national and global levels. In the tradition of Patricia Nelson Limericks Legacy of Conquest, Robbinss study challenges some of our most revered images of the West and invigorates the ongoing debates over its history and meaning for our nation.
Table of Contents
Western Myth, Western Realityp. 1
Ideology and the Way Westp. 3
The U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: Tradition versus Modernizationp. 22
The American and Canadian Wests: Two Nations, Two Culturesp. 40
Forces of Transformationp. 59
In Pursuit of Private Gain: The West as Investment Arenap. 61
The Industrial West: The Paradox of the Machine in the Gardenp. 83
From Capitalist Patriarchy to Corporate Monopoly: The Life and Times of Samuel T. Hauserp. 103
An "Equilibrium of Chaos": External Control and the Northern Westp. 121
Forces of Integrationp. 143
The South and the West: A Comparative Viewp. 145
Of Country and City: The Metropolis and Hinterland in the Modern Westp. 162
Forces of Disintegrationp. 185
Epilogue: Recycling the Old Westp. 187
Notesp. 199
Indexp. 245
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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