18 Jun 2022


Critique, Comparison/Contrast of Legacy of Conquest and the American West: A Concise History

Format: Chicago

Academic level: University

Paper type: Book Report

Words: 1298

Pages: 4

Downloads: 0

America’s history is very rich, and it has no parallels as it draws from various parts of this continent which become valuable in offering direction on the way forward. The West part of America is quite diverse with historical aspects which are very vital in giving this nation a rich culture. These two books that are Legacy of Conquest and The American West: A Concise History offers the reader with a history of the West which has shaped the modern America in more than one ways. The major issues in these two texts are Eurocentric racism, conquest, invasion, exploitation and colonization which are important when it comes to relaying of American history. This essay focuses on offering comparisons and distinctions between the two books concerning various perspectives and issues as brought out by the authors.

Comparison and Contrast of Legacy of Conquest and the American West: A Concise History 

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These two books can be compared to such a great extent on their viewpoints as well as the issues that they feel have shaped the West. Some of these comparisons include the Turner thesis, Women and Gender in the West, minority groups in the West, resources available and economics among others.

Impact of the European oppressors 

Limerick’s book focuses on the role the Europeans played in oppressing the Americans during the colonial period as a central theme. The European oppressors are portrayed as soulless who conquered and still continue to overcome the minorities as well as the environment in the West for their selfish gains and interests. The conquerors that Limerick refers to as White Americans played the innocent victims who encountered disasters through what they claimed was based on good intentions for others 1 . Consequently, they felt that greed and capitalism were the cause of their problems rather than an opportunity to claim allowances that the federal government so generously extended to the Westerners.

Butler's and Lansing's book focuses on the role the European colonizers and oppressors played in shaping the history of America. The main players in oppressing and colonizing the Americans were the French and the Spanish in Louisiana and Texas respectively. These European oppressors facilitated the practice of women and children slavery which was used to punish the people involved in the war 2 . The men were killed and were never involved in the slavery. In addition, the British armies were marching to America with the aim of expanding the territories in what was termed as the American dream.


The book by Limerick further focuses on the minority groups that existed in the event of civilization and colonization of the western society. These minorities include the Latinos, Indians, and Asians who underwent tough times under the hands of the conquerors as they expanded their territories. In addition, these minorities’ cultures were diverse and constantly changed which created complexity with the conquerors 3 . Consequently, the Westerners found they alienated from the rest of the country and were seen as imposing on the white settlers. However, the settlers who imposed their will on the Plain Indians were justified since they viewed Indians as an inferior and doomed race. However, these minorities refused to be subdued and fought back to chart their history in the difficult times they faced in a foreign land. Ultimately the Hispanics, Japanese, Chinese, blacks, Hispanics and Indians refused to be conquered and became active participants in the activities unfolding in the West 4 . As a result, these minority groups reacted, acted and affected the people and the environment around them and became part of the unfolding events of the time.

Butler’s and Lansing’s book focuses on the complex interactions of the minorities with the other cultures in the West. These racial differences shaped the history of America as these minority groups struggled to make it in a racial society with diverse westerners with varied needs and driving forces. In addition, the Indian tribes were becoming more powerful as the gained both political and economic influence and they were engaged in the slave trade 5 . These made them become successful in as much as they were a minority group. They refused to be conquered by the White settlers and were determined to be done in the foreign land.

Women and Gender 

Butler and Lansing have highlighted the issue of women and gender in their book. The Indians who were added in the Spanish alliance became very prominent and traded in women slaves. As a result, the women and children of a nation’s foe automatically became victims of capture since they were considered the most vulnerable 6 . Moreover, the capture and the human slavery now was targeted on gender disparities rather than racial disparities meaning that any group would capture the women of the nation they were warring with. In addition, the woman in this society was delineated both in political and economic terms thus was rendered powerless in a male-dominated society. Consequently, women were not considered as having the power to make any decision regarding any issue in their cultures and were held in captivity where they were raped, murdered or, married or used in forced labor 7 . This meant that these women had no control over what happened to them and it was men who decided their fate in the best way they thought. Furthermore, women and children were regarded as war booty which would be used to punish the enemy while on the contrary the captured men were killed and were never sold to slavery.

Limerick book has highlighted the issues of women and gender in the America West in scanty details which are viewed as a great omission on her part. The women of this age were programmed to celebrate and recognize the maleness of their men without considering their own femaleness 8 . It is evident then that the females in this age were seen as lesser beings with fewer rights as compared to their male counterparts. The men were treated as men and deserved respect from the women in their lives since they owned the means of production.

The Turner Thesis 

The Turner Thesis is one point of comparison between the two books which is treated either similarly or differently. Frederick Jackson Turner, a historian, and a scholar wrote his influential thesis: "Frontier Thesis" in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In his view, the United States of America is unique as compared to other nations in the world and the due process of having a frontier served a unique purpose of emphasizing American exceptionalism in the global arena. Turner further conceived a frontier to have unifying characteristics which he considered efficient which to many people including Limerick is rigid, static and exclusionary 9 . In addition, Limerick feels that Turner's thesis may have succeeded in creating divisions between the West and the other divisions in claiming to unify America. It is these arbitrary divisions that Limerick sought to break and pull down in her book. Furthermore, Limerick is the idea that Turner's thesis tends to create a discontinuity between the past and the present of the West which ends up making the study of the West to become irrelevant which makes her reject the idea of a frontier created by Turner. As a result of this thesis, there is an ignorance of current issues that seem to stem from the past of this so-called frontier. Consequently, Limerick book acts as a substitute for knitting the West together since it can never escape the consequences of the past 10 .

In conclusion, these writers have made significant efforts in highlighting the major happenings shaping the American West history. As a result, they have tackled on similar issues such as women and gender, minorities and oppression by the colonialists though a few differences occur. These differences are mainly in the scope of the analysis rather than on the content. As a result of their efforts, the reader can understand where the American continent is coming from and where it is headed with the various issues shaping its rich history.


Butler, Anne M., and Lansing, Michael J. The American West: A Concise History. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.

Limerick, Patricia. The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West . New York: W.W. Norton Publisher, 1987.

1 Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West , [New York: W.W. Norton Publisher, 1987], 46.

2 Anne M. Butler and Michael J. Lansing, The American West: A Concise History , [Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007], 28.

3 Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest , 36

4 Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest , 37

5 Anne M. Butler and Michael J. Lansing, The American West , 25.

6 Anne M. Butler and Michael J. Lansing, The American West , 30

7 Anne M. Butler and Michael J. Lansing, The American West , 33.

8 Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest , 280-281.

9 Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest , 21

10 Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest , 26.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Critique, Comparison/Contrast of Legacy of Conquest and the American West: A Concise History.


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