Stephen Aron

Aug 18, 2023

Peace and Friendship

An Alternative History of the American West

Oxford University Press 2022

The history of the American West has typically been told in one of two ways: as triumph, or as tragedy. Stephen Aron, accomplished scholar of the West, Professor Emeritus at UCLA, and President of the Autry Museum of the American West, argues that both of these narratives flatten out what was actually a much more complicated story. 

Peace and Friendship: An Alternative History of the American West (Oxford UP, 2022), Aron zooms in on several moments of contingency in the Western past, moments when people of often radically different backgrounds came together to build community, or at least lived peacefully, despite their differences. Although these moments eventually fell apart, Aron argues that they show that the past was unwritten until it came to pass, and that our own uncertain future is the same. Peace and Friendship offers important lessons about the power of history and contingency, and underscores the unsettled nature of human events and our capacity for overcoming even our deepest differences.

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Stephen Hausmann

Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

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