Reviews for The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

by Greg Grandin

Library Journal
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Throughout American history the frontier has been as much a place as an idea. In a broad and sweeping history stretching from the founding of the nation through the election of Donald Trump, Bancroft Prize winner Grandin (history, New York Univ.; The Empire of Necessity) examines what he calls the "expansionist imperative" of the frontier and what happens when that expansion comes to a halt. The extending boundaries of the United States provided a sense of freedom as land opened for settlement and acted as a safety valve against the increasingly populated and industrialized east. Grandin shows how the frontier deflected outwardly economic and political conflicts at the often violent expense of Native Americans and those who occupied lands that came under new control. After the closure of the frontier, Grandin demonstrates how the term took on an ideological meaning related to social and scientific progress and describes how President Trump's call to build a wall signaled the end of the frontier with its promise of growth and prosperity. -VERDICT Grandin's own ideas are in plain view; however, that should not distance readers interested in American history and the frontier from this insightful book. [See Prepub Alert, 9/10/18.]-Chad E. Statler, Westlake Porter P.L., Westlake, OH Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Focusing on US domestic and foreign policy, this is Grandin's most "American" book. A true hemispheric and international historian (e.g. Fordlandia, CH, Jun'10, 47-5822), he is well-qualified to place America's frontier mythology in global context. The End of the Myth is both timeless and timely. It traces understandings of the frontier over the full course of US history, and is relevant to current debates over immigration, national identity and security. Grandin describes how Americans viewed and used the frontier as a safety valve relieving internal conflicts; encouraging individuals' rights to migrate helped to avoid recognizing broader social rights. Americans also extended their frontier through expansion beyond US borders; overseas imperialism mirrored domestic conquest of indigenous peoples and exploitation of minorities, with racial prejudice as driving force. Grandin (NYU) precisely documents this bleak view of history. He is less persuasive arguing that the border wall has replaced the frontier as defining myth. Despite heated contemporary rhetoric, it's less universal, more contested than frontier mythology. Nevertheless, his sense that constricted pessimism now substitutes for expansive optimism is acute. The myth has yet to end, but this revealing history stimulates productive debate. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. --Thomas Pyke Johnson, University of Massachusetts, Boston