The New Encyclopedia of the American West


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Edited by Howard R. Lamar

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The American West is an evocative term that conjures up images of cowboys and Indians, covered wagons, sheriffs and outlaws, and endless prairies as well as contemporary images ranging from national parks to the oil, aerospace, and film industries. In addition, the West encompasses not only the past and present of the area west of the Mississippi but also the frontier as it moved across each of the fifty American states, offering the promise of freedom and a better life to pioneers and settlers in every era. This authoritative, comprehensive, and lavishly illustrated single-volume encyclopedia is a rich source of information about these many American West, real and imaginary, old and new, stretching from coast to coast and throughout the country’s history and culture.

The encyclopedia, a thoroughly revised and expanded version of Howard Lamar’s acclaimed twenty-year-old Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West, consists of more than 2,400 entries in alphabetical order by more than 300 contributors, along with over 600 illustrations and maps (four times more than in the original edition). The book includes articles by such authorities as Leonard J. Arrington on Mormonism, Anne Butler on prisons and prostitutes, John Mack Faragher on the fur trade, California, and television and radio westerns, Martha Sandweiss on photography, and Ron Tyler on western prints.

Among the other topics covered are:

the formative period of each state;

the diplomacy of American expansion;

important discoverers and mountain men;

major Native American tribes, their leaders, and culture;

pivotal women such as Sacagawea, Annie Oakley, and Willa Cather;

African Americans, Asian Americans, and Mexican Americans on the western frontier;

novelists, artists, and filmmakers and the real and fictional people they turned into mythic heroes or villains;

politicians from Benjamin Franklin to Ronald Reagan;

major cities and landmarks;

and conservation and wildlife issues.

The West continues to be a symbol of both America’s frontier past and its troubled future. This book is an indispensable introduction to its endlessly fascinating story.

Howard R. Lamar is Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University and former president of the university. He is also a past president of the Western Historical Association.

A selection of the Conservative Book Club and the History Book Club

"Informative, entertaining, and well balanced, this book provides an amazingly in-depth view of western Americana. As useful to the layperson as to the academic and a ready authoritative source of precise information on a variety of topics, this encyclopedia is a delight to browse and is easy to use."—Vine Deloria, Jr., Professor of History, University of Colorado-Boulder

“[A] big and valuable book.”—Albuquerque Tribune

The New Encyclopedia is an informative and useful book.”—Larry McMurtry, New York Review of Books

"This is an absolutely marvelous book—not only an unmatched reference tool, but a rich collection of engaging, authoritative, and highly readable writings on almost every facet of Western American history."—Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., Author and Historian

"[This book] is a monumental achievement in the historiography of the American West. Howard Lamar has rendered our nation a great service by compiling this magisterial and indispensable reference volume."—Stephen E. Ambrose

"Lavishly illustrated, the book contains over 2400 entries by some 600 historians of the West—and not just popular West cowboys and Indians; subjects entries range from the labor movement and women’s suffrage to music about religion. Intelligently written and edited, with competent biographic listings."—Charles V. Cowling, Library Journal

"This historiography brings together history, geography, culture, literature, art and natural history of both the real and the imaginary West. With more than 2,400 alphabetized entries, it tells the story of the West in an original, vivid and dramatic way, spanning thousands of years from prehistory to the present. . . . Like Lamar’s earlier volume, this volume will be the ultimate reference work on America’s West."—Abilene Reporter-News

"This encyclopedia is a resource to be turned to on many occasions: for specific information or for random knowledge that is as entertaining as any tall tale around a cowboy’s campfire."—Wilma Dykeman, Knoxville News Sentinel

"A valuable contribution to the intellectual rebirth taking place as the old and new West collide."—William Kittredge, Wall Street Journal

“The book is an entertaining trip for browsers. . . . Mr. Lamar is to be applauded for organizing this huge, invaluable undertaking.”—William Kittredge, Wall Street Journal

"A grand resource, a fine work of editing, a labor of love, almost a life’s work by the general editor, Howard Lamar."—Bloomsbury Review

"[This book] is the best kind of reference work, useful to researchers but free of academic jargon. It’s readable to browsers. . . . The encyclopedia . . . is more than dusty nostalgia. Its essays on issues such as reclamation and irrigation introduce the new, booming urban West, struggling to reinvent itself."—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

"This is a superb work. The New Encyclopedia of the American West leaves in the prairie dust all previous reference works on the topic."—Tom Chaffin, Washington Post Book World

"Superb."—Nat Hentoff, Village Voice

"This authoritative, comprehensive, and lavishly illustrated single-volume encyclopedia is a rich source of information about these many American Wests—real and imaginary, old and new, stretching from coast to coast, and throughout the country’s history and culture."—Librarian’s Quarterly

"Lamar is to be congratulated on his perceptions and perseverance. This is the indispensable handbook for Western historians at home or in libraries."—Robin Higham, Journal of the West

“A remarkable compilation and blending of our history, culture, geography, literature, art and natural history. There has never been such a thoroughly researched, or well-written reference such as this one. . . . The flowing, often inspiring narrative sections tell the story of the West in its own vivid and dramatic way, spanning thousands of years, from prehistory to the present.”—Palo Alto Daily News

“This reference packs a lot of history into its pages.”—Phoenix

The New Encyclopedia is an informative and useful book.”—Larry McMurtry, New York Review of Books

“A richly illustrated and readable compendium of the history, mythology, and personalities of the West that spans both the traditional and revisionist schools of Western history…for both browsers and researchers, The New Encyclopedia will amply repay time spent with introductions to new and surprising characters and overviews on everything from western films to U.S. Indian policy.”—Caroline Fraser, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“[A] big and valuable book.”—Arizona Republic

“Both a time-tested and a current source of information.”—Booklist

“This bigger-than-a-doorstep compendium features the old: information on historic towns and figures, the formative periods of young states, the Gold Rush. And the new: modern Western leaders, conservation and wildlife issues, contemporary recreation. . . . The juxtaposition is startling and thought provoking.”—Patti Thorn, Rocky Mountain News

“This new, revised, and handsomely printed . . . edition is a cause for some celebration among those whose historical or literary interests center on matters western, for it is about as complete as any single-volume reference can be, and the information it offers is both current and thorough. . . . It would make an excellent gift for the western-o-phile on your Christmas list”—Clay Reynolds, Houston Chronicle

“There is much to be admired here, most particularly the extensive coverage of 58 Indian tribes and 70 Indian leaders.”—JoAnn Levy, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

"This 1,300 page, triple-columned whopper encompasses the Midwest and Southwest as well as the Far West, and it even finds a way to touch upon the Plymouth Colony and Pocahontas. If anything of significance is missing, this Easterner didn’t notice it. Everything is here, from Wounded Knee to the Santa Fe Opera."—Parade

“With more than 2,400 entries in over 1,300 pages and lavishly illustrated, the new edition, like its predecessor, is sure to be thumbed through avidly by scholars and buffs alike.”—T. H. Watkins, Times Literary Supplement

“By any measure, whether in pounds, pages, words, or ideas. Howard Lamar’s long-awaited revision to his venerable Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West is a remarkable achievement. . . . A satisfying reference work destined to be a standard for many years to come.”—B. Byron Price, Journal of Arizona History

“Not just A-Z, this is an encyclopedia of American Wests from sea to sea and from pre-Columbian times to the present. . . . A marvelous reference work that well serves all western histories and all western historians.”—Stephen Aron, Western Historical Quarterly

"This is a handsome, informative, engaging book—well worth the asking price. It rightfully takes its place alongside the rival four-volume Encyclopedia of the American West, edited by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, as the best reference works on the West."—David Wishart, Great Plains Quarterly

“Indispensably useful, finely illustrated, well written, and brilliantly orchestrated. . . . For anyone interested in the American West, this single book has the same commanding range and authority as the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.”Beth LaDow, Journal of American History

“Despite his impressive academic credentials, Lamar’s comprehensive reference is easily accessible to the most casual reader. The New Encyclopedia of the American West recounts historic events, lasting myths and cultural phenomena, accompanied by superb photographs and many examples of Western Art.”—Krista Reese, America West Airlines Magazine

“Lamar’s comprehensive reference is easily accessible to the most casual reader. [It] recounts historic events, lasting myths and cultural phenomena, accompanied by superb photographs and many examples of Western Art.”—Krista Reese, America West Airlines Magazine

“[A] stupendous reference work. . . worth seeking out if one wants a good one-stop source of information on the West.”—American Cowboy

“Both books should certainly help historians fill in whatever gaps they may have about their own understanding of western American history and, by doing so, develop a better, more inclusive, explanation of American history for their students. For that reason alone, it would be easy to bring this essay to a conclusion with straightforward endorsement: Buy them both, use them frequently.”—Gregory H. Nobles, William and Mary Quarterly

Winner of the 1998 Western Heritage Award sponsored by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center

Winner of the American Cowboy Culture Award given by the American Cowboy Culture Association, Inc.

Named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine

Selected as one of the top ten reference books of the year (1998) by Library Journal
ISBN: 9780300070880
Publication Date: September 23, 1998
1344 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
640 b/w illus.
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