Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1992


Published in Great Plains Research 2:1 (February 1992), pp. 149-150. Copyright © 1992 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


For the younger scholar interested in the West, Professor Wilkinson's book offers a bibliographic shortcut with a carefully selected and balanced listing of nearly 500 essential entries. The author skillfully weaves annotation of some works into a smoothly flowing text; other items are simply listed in concluding paragraphs.

The book's distinctive organization selectively highlights certain characteristics of the West. The initial chapter reviews the attempts to define the West geographically. The next chapter, "Events," discusses works dealing with Western history, but focuses on key or illustrative conflicts and turning points. Chapter 3 addresses "Peoples," which may be influential individuals, subcultures, occupations, or institutions (e.g., Weyerhaeuser Company). A review of works on natural history and resources makes up the next chapter rather inappropriately termed "Terrain." The last substantial chapter lists works under the subject of "Ideas," that is, basically philosophy behind policy. A bibliography of 54 pages, each entry referenced to page(s) of occurrence in narrative, concludes the book.