The existence of this volume is a testament to the extraordinary energy and persistence of the late Michael P. Malone. After coaudioring a splendid state history of Montana (Montana: A History of Two Cen turies, 1976), Mike began planning a full-scale history of the American West. He had an extensive project in mind, a comprehensive overview of the West from the region's initial landscapes and first human inhabitants to the end of the twentieth century. He wanted other authors to help him with this demanding task. He turned to me as one possible coauthor, but I turned Mm down in the early 1980s, when he first approached me about joining him in this immense endeavor. I was convinced that I did not have the time or necessary background to jointly author the proposed western history. Undeterred, Mike talked another western historian into writing most of the pre-1840 sections of the book. Then he came back to me, urging me to write the social-cultural chapters about the post-1840 period. This time I agreed to become part of the western triumvirate writing a new history of the West. It was nearly impossible to turn a deaf ear to boyish, enthusiastic Mike Malone.
Changes in the authors' careers delayed completion of our western history. When the third member of the trio bowed out, unable to complete his assigned chapters in the