David J. Weber, Book Reviw Editor
Brand Book Number Three. The San Diego Corral of the Westerners. Edited by George M. Ellis. San Diego: San Diego Corral, 1973. Illustrations. Notes. Maps. 196 pages. $25.
Under the able editorship of George Ellis, the San Diego Corral has issued its third Brand Book. Handsomely printed, beautifully illustrated (including a color portfolio by western artist Bill Bender), this volume contains sixteen articles which treat a wide range of subjects. As with all Brand Books, the quality and purpose of its contents are uneven. Some essays, such as Elizabeth MacPhail’s story of San Diego’s red light district, and Eugene K. Chamberlin’s piece on “The 1894 Wheelbarrow Odometer Survey of Porter Perrin Wheaton,” represent diligent research on fresh subjects. Other articles, such as T. Lynn Smith’s “Brazilian Cowboys,” and Helen Ellsberg’s “The Furs that Launched a Thousand Ships,” represent efforts at popularizing a subject which scholars have already explored. Among the articles which touch directly on local history are: “California Indian Reservations, 1854-1971,” by Alexander Summers (which focuses on San Diego); “Chief Antonio Garra’s Insurrection and the Confederation Myth of 1851,” by Leonard B. Waitman; “Soldiering at the Mission San Diego de Alcala, 1849 through 1858,” by James R. Moriarty, III; “Jose Matias Mareno, secretary to Pio Pico,” by Robert W. Long; and Robert L. Sperry’s reminiscences of “Fifty Years in Imperial Valley.”
The quality of articles in this brand book is generally high. Indeed, two of the sixteen pieces have already been reprinted. Elizabeth MacPhail’s article appeared in this Journal (Spring, 1974), and a condensed version of Helen Ellsberg’s article on the sea otter trade appeared in The American West (November, 1974). Special congratulations are due editor George Ellis, who also contributed his own well-researched and smoothly written piece: “Kit Carson and Ewing Young: The California Expedition of 1829-30 and the Beginning of a Legend.” Copies of this limited edition of 500 are still available from the San Diego Corral, P.O. Box 7174, San Diego, 92107.
The Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages. Edited by Ronald Louis Silveira de Braganza and Charlotte Oakes. Annotations by Jonathan A. Hill. San Diego: University Library, 1974. Illustrations. Maps. 333 pages. $28.
Scholars will welcome the publication of this handsomely printed and helpfully annotated guide to the Hill Collection of books pertaining to Pacific Voyages, housed at the University of California, San Diego. Assembled by Kenneth Hill and donated to the University, the collection contains, according to librarian Melvin Voigt, “virtually all of the reports of voyages on the Pacific made prior to 1850.” Voigt’s statement is a slight exaggeration, but the Hill Collection is remarkably comprehensive. It goes beyond maritime exploration to include some accounts of overland journeys to the Pacific (it also contains accounts by overland explorers, such as Zebulon Montgomery Pike who never saw the Pacific).
Containing many exceedingly rare books, the Hill Collection adds significantly to the value of the young University Library. Local scholars should be especially pleased to have such a collection near at hand, and grateful that the Hill family has established a fund to keep the collection growing.
Selective Bibliography of Chicano Bibliographies. By Julio A. Martinez. San Diego State University/Malcolm Love Library, 1974. 16 pages. Softbound.
Bibliographies concerning Mexican-Americans proliferated so rapidly in the late 1960s that by 1970 a bibliography of Chicano bibliographies was published. The present compilation, by Julio Martinez, represents a more up-to-date guide to the bibliographies which continue to pour forth. This bibliography of bibliographies is not annotated.
Chicano Bibliography. University of Utah Marriott Library. Bibliographic Series, Volume I. Salt Lake City: 1973. 297 pages.
One of the better bibliographies to appear in recent years, this one is designed as a guide to the holdings in the University of Utah Library. Its entries are unannotated. Its chief virtue lies in its diversity. Not only is it interdisciplinary, but it includes government documents, textbooks, children’s books, and films.
Southwest Classics. The Creative Literature of the Arid Lands. Essays on the Books and Their Writers. By Lawrence Clark Powell. Los Angeles: The Ward Ritchie Press, 1974. Illustrations. Index. 370 pages. $6.50 softbound. $12.50 cloth.
Many Southern Californians have been treated to Lawrence Clark Powell’s essays on Southwestern writers in the pages of Westways. Now, as many of us hoped, these essays have been drawn together in a single volume. Powell discusses the lives and works of twenty-six writers who produced what he judges to be classic books on the Southwest. Writers of fiction predominate, and include Harvey Fergusson, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Austin, Willa Cather, Zane Grey, and Oliver La Farge, among others. Non-fiction accounts such as those of padres Kino and Garces, Josiah Gregg, Susan Magoffin, and Charles Lummis are also plentiful. For those who are acquainted with some of these “Southwest Classics,” there is no better or more fascinating introduction to their writers. Those who have no familiarity with books on the Southwest may be lured to the library by Powell’s warm, enthusiastic, and highly personal account.
Westward Expansion. A History of the American Frontier. By Ray Allen Billington. Fourth Edition. New York: Macmillan, 1974. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. Maps. 840 pages.
The American West: An Interpretive History. By Robert V. Hine. Boston: Little, Brown, 1973. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. Maps. Notes. 371 pages. Softbound.
A Short History of the American West. By Joseph A. Stout, Jr. and Odie B. Faulk. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. Bibliography. Index. Maps. 325 pages. Softbound.
The American West in the Twentieth Century. A Short History of an Urban Oasis. By Gerald D. Nash. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1973. Bibliographical Notes. Illustrations. Index. 312 pages. Softbound.
Every now and then someone predicts that courses on the American West are out of style and will soon fall from university curricula. Students and publishers, however, have not heard the message. Students keep signing up for these popular courses and publishers continue to supply reading material, as these four recently published books indicate.
Ray Billington’s massive history remains the standard text in the field, and the most complete. Beginning on the Eastern seaboard with the colonial frontier, it crosses the Appalachians and then enters into the Trans-Mississippi West. Billington has incorporated the latest scholarship into this text, adding new material to nearly every chapter and bringing his impressive annotated bibliography up to date.
Robert Hine’s highly readable “interpretive history,” is provocative, sometimes speculative, and makes no effort to be complete. He passes over the colonial frontier lightly, but includes chapters not found in other general histories: “Plunder and Preservation,” “Racial Minorities,” “Schools and Colleges,” “Violence,” and “The Image of the West in Art.” The illustrations for this readable book are especially well-chosen.
Faulk and Stout treat the Trans-Mississippi West exclusively. In a smoothly written narrative, with attention to telling a good story, they chronicle the activities of Spain and Mexico in the West, the American penetration, conquest, and consolidation. They devote a single chapter to the 20th century. By beginning with Spanish settlement of Mexico, Texas, and California, Faulk and Stout depart from the tradition of looking at the West as an east to west process, or as unfolding frontier. Instead they see it as the scene of European rivalries.
None of the standard texts has done justice to the twentieth century. Gerald Nash has now filled that gap with a clear, concise, well-organized synthesis. He touches upon politics, economics, “life styles,” culture, minority groups, and environmental problems. He divides the West into five sub-regions: California, the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain States, the Great Plains, and the Southwest. California, with two-fifths of the population of the West and enormous economic and cultural influence, naturally receives more emphasis than any other western state.
Up and Down California in 1860-64. The Journal of William H. Brewer, Professor of Agriculture in the Sheffield Scientific School from 1864-1903. Edited by Francis P. Farquhar. First Paperback Edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974. Illustrations. Index. 583 pages. Softbound, $5.95.
First published in 1930, Up and Down California quickly took its place as a classic of California travel literature. New editions appeared in 1949, 1966, and now this paperback edition makes the volume accessible to a wide range of readers. Officially attached to the State Geological Survey led by Josiah Dwight Whitney, William Brewer traveled over 14,000 miles during his three year stay in California. He recorded his observations in a series of interesting, fact-filled letters to his brother in the East. These ably edited letters constitute Brewer’s “journal.” Most of Brewer’s writing describes the Sierra Nevadas. Although he visited and described other coastal communities, San Diego was not on his itinerary.
The Water Seekers. By Remi A. Nadeau. Revised Edition. Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1974. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. Map. 278 pages. $8.95.
This sprightly, popular account of how Southern California obtained water from the Owens Valley and the Colorado River first appeared in 1950. Although undocumented, it has long been recognized as the most sound and readable introduction to the subject. In this revised edition, Nadeau has not incorporated recent scholarly studies, but he has added a final chapter which surveys developments of the past twenty-five years such as the Feather River project. Nadeau raises serious questions about the wisdom of bringing more water to the already overcrowded coastal plain. As William Mulholland reportedly remarked: “Whoever brings the water will bring the people.”
Peter Thompson’s Narrative of the Little Bighorn Campaign, 1876. A Critical Analysis of an Eyewitness Account of the Custer Debacle. By Daniel O. Magnussen. Glendale, CA.: The Arthur – H. Clark Company, 1974. Appendices. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. Notes. Maps. 340 pages. $22.50.
Thompson’s rare eyewitness account of Custer’s demise at the Little Bighorn has been published before. This handsome and distinguished new printing is of value as the first analysis of Thompson’s controversial narrative. Indeed, Thompson’s account is dwarfed by Professor Magnussen’s voluminous notes and text, which attempt to identify the facts and single out errors in Thompson’s flawed recollections.