At the end of the 1930s, the West was in peril. A cultural and economic backwater, the Great Depression had all-but wiped out the extractive industries which had fueled the region's economy for decades. What catapulted the West into the global twentieth century was mobilization for World War II.
In The Mobilized American West: 1940-2000 (U Nebraska Press, 2023), University of Washington emeritus professor John Findlay argues that once began, that mobilization never really ended, and continues to define the West to this day. As the latest entry in Nebraska's lauded History of the American West series, Findlay uses the latest scholarship to offer a synthetic look at the recent history of the West, a period that often gets short shrift in Western historiography. Findlay also takes new approaches, looking at the West through the lenses of family history and political culture, to make the case that the region is still distinct and worthy of study as a unique place. Findlay's West is a place of violence, democracy, competing interests, and of beauty, and is a grand confirmation that there are still rich veins to be mined in regional Western histories.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.