Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2000


Published in Great Plains Research 10 (Spring 2000). Copyright © 2000 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The editors of the Journal of Historical Geography considered the publication of the third volume of Donald Meinig's "magisterial historical geography" to be so important as to merit a sixteen-page special feature: an account of the project by the author followed by invited commentaries by Cole Harris and Carville Earle (JHG, January 1999). Meinig explains that "America" refers to the United States, though "other Americas" (Canada, Mexico, Panama, etc.) are considered in presenting it in "a broader geographic context... ." The Shaping in the series title announces an emphasis on "form, morphology, spatial patterns, [and] geographic structure"; in the author's opinion, the United States is "one of the greatest exhibits of the continuous reshaping of the human geography of areas." Meinig's overriding concerns are "with the imposition of order upon areas, with the location of various kinds of places and connections between them, with distinguishing features of constituent areas, and with spatial systems that give rise to more general patterns." He acknowledges that the "great landforms map of Erwin Raisz and broad patterns of soil, vegetation, and climate are ever in sight or in mind as I write." But Meinig is in no sense a latter-day environmental determinist.