Richard White examines the two most enduring stories of the frontier, both told in Chicago in 1893, the year of the Columbian Exposition. One was Frederick Jackson Turner's remarkably influential lecture, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History"; the other took place in William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's flamboyant extravaganza, "The Wild West." Turner recounted the peaceful settlement of an empty continent, a tale that placed Indians at the margins. Cody's story put Indians—and bloody battles—at center stage, and culminated with the Battle of the Little Bighorn, popularly known as "Custer's Last Stand." Seemingly contradictory, these two stories together reveal a complicated national identity.
Patricia Limerick shows how the stories took on a life of their own in the twentieth century and were then reshaped by additional voices—those of Indians, Mexicans, African-Americans, and others, whose versions revisit the question of what it means to be an American.
Generously illustrated, engagingly written, and peopled with such unforgettable characters as Sitting Bull, Captain Jack Crawford, and Annie Oakley, The Frontier in American Culture reminds us that despite the divisions and denials the western movement sparked, the image of the frontier unites us in surprising ways.
"Patricia Nelson Limerick is an original, learned, passionate writer. Everything she writes about the history of the American West deserves attention."--Larry McMurtry
"Patricia Limerick is simply one of the best writers alive--and the astonishing thing is that she thinks as clearly and logically as she writes."--Garry Wills