Second in the Mainstream of America series (the first was Stewart Holbrook's The Age of the Moguls - 1953) this is subtitled An Informal History of the Southwest. Wellman, in fiction and non-fiction has evidenced his familiarity through long study with an area which combines in its history, adventure, melodrama, tragedy, stature of hero and villain alike, some 400 turbulent years. The early sections deal with the Spanish conquistadors and padres, and Wellman brings out what is too often over-looked, the great stamp they put on a whole region through their too little noticed colonization period. The Indian wars- through such dramatic figures as Cochise, Colorado, Geronimo and others -- and the whole literature of the Wild West, are familiar. Less so, the Pueblo wars, on which Wellman puts piercing eye. Who remembers that the Pueblo Indians forced the evacuation of Santa Fe and held the area, free from the hated Spaniards, for ten more years. There were good governors (Vargas, for instance) and more bad ones. Good padres and bad. And among the French the same balance maintained. Wellman traces the years of conflict between European empires for Southwest dominance; then the bizarre struggle for Texan independence; the final conquest by the young U.S.A and its ""manifest destiny""- from sea to sea, after successive Mexican and Indian wars. An uneasy peace, with desperadoes and rustlers and outlaws. The buffalo had been exterminated; the Indians were chiefly in reservations --peace without honor; oil was discovered; and finally, the Southwest became the area where atomic energy was harnessed. An enormous amount of material is packed into these pages.