"It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New History of the American West

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University of Oklahoma Press, 1991 - History - 644 pages
9 Reviews
A centerpiece of the New History of the American West, this book embodies the theme that, as succeeding groups have occupied the American West and shaped the land, they have done so without regard for present inhabitants. Like the cowboy herding the dogies, they have cared little about the cost their activities imposed on others; what has mattered is the immediate benefit they have derived from their transformation of the land.

Drawing on a recent flowering of scholarship on the western environment, western gender relations, minority history, and urban and labor history, as well as on more traditional western sources, It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own is about the creation of the region rather than the vanishing of the frontier.

Richard White tells how the various parts of the West—its distinct environments, its metropolitan areas and vast hinterlands, the various ethnic and racial groups and classes—are held together by a series of historical relationships that are developed over time. Widespread aridity and a common geographical location between the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean would have provided but weak regional ties if other stronger relationships had not been created.

A common dependence on the deferral government and common roots in a largely extractive and service-based economy were formative influences on western states and territories. A dual labor system based on race and the existence of minority groups with distinctive legal status have helped further define the region. Patterns of political participation and political organization have proved enduring. Together, these relationships among people, and between people and place, have made the West a historical creation and a distinctive region.

From Europeans contact and subsequent Anglo-American conquest, through the civil-rights movement, the energy crisis, and the current reconstructing of the national and world economies, the West has remained a distinctive section in a much larger nation. In the American imagination the West still embodies possibilities inherent in the vastness and beauty of the place itself. But, Richard White explains, the possibilities many imagined for themselves have yielded to the possibilities seized by others. Many who thought themselves cowboys have in the end turned out to be dogies.

 

  

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Review: It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own: A New History of the American West

User Review  - Rob Briggs - Goodreads

I both enjoyed and found illuminating this example of the New Western history (now about a generation old). Your old view of the West as cowboys, Indians and pioneers will never be the same. Read full review

Review: It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own: A New History of the American West

User Review  - Sandy Bartel - Goodreads

This was an interesting overall history of the West. I read it for an English. Read full review

Contents

The Seeds of the West
5
Carvings on Inscription Rock near Zuni Pueblo
8
Empires and Indians
27
Penitentes of New Mexico
42
Part Two The Federal Government and the NineteenthCentury West
55
The Conquest of the West
61
The Federal Government and the Indians
85
Lakota Sioux meeting with a peace delegation 1868
98
Loggers in a Washington bunkhouse about 1904
295
New Communities and the Western Social Order
298
Early churches of Dodge City Kansas
310
Social Conflict
328
U S soldiers shot by Marshal Wild Bill Hickock in Hays Kansas
331
Seattle antiChinese riot February 8 1886
342
Militia with Catling guns at the Cripple Creek strike of 1893
348
Western Politics
353

Chief Red Clouds bedroom
105
Ration day for the White Rock Utes
111
Exploring the Land
119
George Armstrong Custers Exploring Expedition of 1874
131
Distributing the Land
137
Township numbering system set up under the Ordinance of 1785
138
Homesteaders claim shack on typical prairie land in Nebraska
151
Territorial Government
155
Free state artillery for the defense of Lawrence Kansas 1856
162
Reward poster for the arrest of officials of the Mormon church
175
Part Three Transformation and Development
179
Commerce a lithograph of the first train on the Union Pacific Railroad
182
Migration
183
Detail of On the Way to the Mines by Charles Nahl early 1850s
189
Broadside advertising railroad land
197
Wagon train on the Oregon Trail
203
Transforming the Land
212
Longhor n cattle
221
A sod house in Nebraska 1886
228
The West and the World Economy
236
The price of wheat in Britain and Chicago 18501913
245
Announcement of the opening of the Union Pacific Railroad
251
Latenineteenthcentury view of Park City Utah
261
The Economic Structure of the West
270
The San Francisco docks about 1892
274
Long Branch saloon Dodge City Kansas
276
Chinese laborers working at the great curved trestle on the Central
283
Women of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association in 1910
356
William Andrews Clark of Montana
366
President Theodore Roosevelt and his entourage on the way from
383
Part Four The Bureaucratic Revolution in the West
389
At the Centers of Power
395
Drilling in the Big Muddy oil field of Wyoming about 1903
397
Irrigated farms in the Yakima Valley Washington
404
Promotion of tourism in Denver in the 1910s
414
Municipal construction in Seattle 1906
422
On the Peripheries of Power
431
Apartment house in the Equality colony Washington
435
Allotting surveyor and a translator making a citizen of Chief American
442
Italian fishing boats with lateen masts at Fishermans Wharf
450
Part Five Transforming the West
459
The Depression
463
A Hooverville shanty town in Seattle 1931
468
A Civilian Conservation Corps treeplanting crew
476
Grand Coulee Dam under construction
486
Navajos learn about the governments stock reduction program 1940
494
Reshaping the West
496
Geneva Steel Works Provo Utah
501
Rise of the Metropolitan West
541
The West and the Nation
574
The Imagined West
613
Epilogue
633
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About the author (1991)

Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University, is author of It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own: A New History of the American West and Remembering Ahanagran: Storytelling in a Family's Past.

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