Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly FALL 1988. Copyright 1988 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


This is--in every meaning of the word-a wonderful book. Historian William H. Goetzmann, the author ofExploration and Empire, Karl Boomer's America, and New Lands, New Men has collaborated with his art historian son, William N. Goetzmann, to produce this volume, a companion to the Public Broadcasting System series of the same name. Focused on the illustrators, painters, and photographers of the American West, it offers a stunning overview of their histories, actions, and, most especially, their images. The reader, like the artist;s .and the Goetzmanns themselves, is awed by the felt pull of the West on the imagination; the artists created, as the authors say, "many Wests," which, when taken together, "underscore the importance of myth." More specifically, they write: "the awesome Western landscape and the incredible historic experiences that rise up in our collective memories like ghosts from some vivid past have provided inspiration not only for generations of artists, but also for generations of Americans, red, brown, and white. Thus the West lives on, even today, in the hearts of most Americans" (433, 434).