Explorers of the American West: Mapping the World through Primary Documents

By Edscorn, Steven R. | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Spring 2017 | Go to article overview

Explorers of the American West: Mapping the World through Primary Documents


Edscorn, Steven R., Reference & User Services Quarterly


Explorers of the American West: Mapping the World through Primary Documents. By Jay H. Buckley and Jeffrey D. Nokes. Mapping the World through Primary Documents. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 321 pages. Acid free $100 (ISBN 978-1-61069-731-6). E-book available (978-1-61069-732-3), call for pricing.

Buckley and Nokes have brought together a thoughtful selection of primary sources from the early explorers of the American West, organized around famous expeditions of explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Stephen Long, and John Wesley Powell. Each chapter includes a biography of the explorer featured in the chapter, and approximately ten selected excerpts of primary sources that usually run a page or two in length. Each excerpt has an introductory paragraph that provides historical context for the excerpt, and a few paragraphs of analysis that go beyond summarization and point toward the historical significance of the primary texts.

The work includes one female source in Susan Shelby Magoffin and one African American source that is also sensitive to American Indian perspectives in James P. Beckwourth. This is an appreciable attempt at an element of diversity in a historical arena that includes mostly white men: expedition leaders of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The work includes a useful, selected chronology of the exploration of the West that runs from the foundation of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670 to the death of John Wesley Powell in 1902. It also includes a thorough index of entries that are mostly historical people, American Indian tribes, geographic formations and locations, historical professions, events such as battles, wild and domestic animals and plants, and a few other entries. …

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