The Great Plains

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This classic description of the interaction between the vast central plains of America and the people who lived there has, since its first publication in 1931, been one of the most influential, widely known, and controversial works in western history. Arguing that "the Great Plains environment. . .constitutes a geographic unity whose influences have been so powerful as to put a characteristic mark upon everything that survives within its borders," Webb singles out the revolver, barbed wire, and the windmill as evidence of the new phase of civilization required for settlement of that arid, treeless region. Webb draws on history, anthropology, geography, demographics, climatology, and economics to substantiate his thesis that the 98th meridian constituted an institutional fault-- comparable to a geological fault-- at which "practically every institution that was carried across it was either broken and remade or else greatly altered."

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User Review  - Fredrick - Goodreads

Webb writes about the Great plains in the center of North America. Somewhat wordy and dull. Read full review

Contents

THE PHYSICAL BASIS OF THE GREAT PLAINS ENVIRONMENT
10
THE PLAINS INDIANS
47
THE SPANISH APPROACH TO THE GREAT PLAINS
85
Copyright

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About the author (1931)

A regional historian of imagination and vision, Walter Prescott Webb presented his studies of the frontier, the Great Plains, and his beloved Texas in terms that enhanced the reader's understanding of the entire national experience. Born into a poor East Texas family at a time when the plains were succumbing to the pressure of white civilization, he was a true product of his environment and liked to say that he had begun research on his classical study The Great Plains (1931) "when I was four." Trained at the University of Texas, he began teaching there as well in 1918; yet a series of misadventures prevented him from receiving his Ph.D. until 1932. In 1938 he was Harkness lecturer in American history at the University of London and several years later Harmsworth Professor of American history at Oxford University. Although Webb's work excited controversy and sharp criticism in some quarters, it inspired significant new thinking about the role of regionalism and the environment in the nation's history. In his presidential address to the American Historical Association in 1958, Webb spoke of "History as High Adventure," an apt reflection of his lifelong approach to his work.

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