SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE
What: Historian David Wrobel signs and discusses Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West.
Where: Sundance Books and Music, 121 California Avenue, Reno, NV 89509
When: Thursday, November 3, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
About the Book: Whether seen as a land of opportunity or as paradise lost, the American West took shape in the nation’s imagination with the help of those who wrote about it; but two groups who did much to shape that perception are often overlooked today.
Promoters trying to lure settlers and investors to the West insisted that the frontier had already been tamed—that the only frontiers remaining were those of opportunity. Through posters, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and other printed pieces, these boosters literally imagined places into existence by depicting backwater areas as settled, culturally developed regions where newcomers would find none of the hardships associated with frontier life.
Quick on their heels, some of the West’s original settlers had begun publishing their reminiscences in books and periodicals and banding together in pioneer societies to sustain their conception of frontier heritage. Their selective memory focused on the savage wilderness they had tamed, exaggerating the past every bit as much as promoters exaggerated the present.
Although they are generally seen today as unscrupulous charlatans and tellers of tall tales, David Wrobel reveals that these promoters and reminiscers were more significant than their detractors have suggested. By exploring the vast literature produced by these individuals from the end of the Civil War through the 1920s, he clarifies the pivotal impact of their works on our vision of both the historic and mythic West.
About the Author: A native of London, England, David M. Wrobel is a historian of American thought and culture and the American West. David Wrobel holds the Merrick Chair in Western History at the University of Oklahoma and is also engaged in a wide range of partnerships with K-12 educators. He is the author of The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal (1993) and Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West (2002), and he is currently working on two books, Global West, American Frontier: Traveler’s Accounts from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries and The West and America, 1900-2000: A Regional History.