A biography of Turner, whose famous thesis, ""The Significance of the Frontier in American History,"" is known to...



A biography of Turner, whose famous thesis, ""The Significance of the Frontier in American History,"" is known to generations of American history students. Bogue, emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, offers a comprehensive study of Turner, who was born in 1862 in Wisconsin farm country and eventually came to influence countless students who were specializing in the then emergent fields of Western and sectional history. According to Bogue, Turner was a rare and innovative scholar, as well as a popular teacher who devoted many of his hours to eager acolytes and students, despite the demands of his own prodigious research. His protÆ’gÆ’s remembered him not only as a teacher, but as a companion in the process of discovering history. Turner believed that historians should always strive for broad objective truth even while they were necessarily subject to shaping by their own prejudicial experiences within a specific culture, era, and geography. Bogue argues that Turner, who formed and developed schools of Western history at Wisconsin and Harvard, is comparable only to the great Francis Parkman and Henry Adams as a major eminence in American historiography. Also noted here is the fact that Turner believed the growing concentration of control of natural resources and industry by the government made American political discontent inevitable, compromising and tampering with the celebrated tradition of American individualism that had long been especially characteristic of the West. Later, Turner's many family and social obligations, professional pressures, and poor health delayed the writing of his final ""big book."" Bogue reveals that the historians who were his heirs believed that his frontier theory was overshadowed by other factors that were not given sufficient attention. Nevertheless, Turner's legacy lives on. A scholarly achievement, thick with details.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998


Page Count: 576

Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998