Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:1 (February 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Carl Abbott enhances his reputation for excellence with this interpretive survey of the modern western city. He begins with World War II when heavy federal spending revitalized urban areas stagnating from twenty years of farm-mine depression. Abbott highlights the findings of Gerald Nash, Greg Hise and others while injecting his own scholarly insights at strategic points, a pattern that continues throughout the book. For example, he expands upon D. W. Meinig's concept of imperial Texas by extending Dallas-Fort Worth's range of influence far up into the Wyoming oil country. Then, building upon his own recently published work, Abbott develops further his notion of imperial California extending eastward to encompass parts of Arizona and Nevada as well as northward into Oregon and Washington. This enables him to make the convincing argument that the old nineteenth century east-west pattern of hinterlands shaped by the transcontinental railroads has been transformed by freeways, business networks and "commuting zones" linking urban Californians and Texans with the Northwest and Rockies, respectively, thereby creating more of a north-south axis.