Is There Still a West?

Jared Lucky at Commonweal:

A truly literary history eludes most working historians. Their books are too often weighed down by specialist jargon, and they know that neglecting scholarly trappings—extensive footnotes, name-checking fellow historians—means risking professional irrelevance. It is nearly impossible to reach that most coveted literary destination: a serious argument delivered with a light touch.

In this, Brands is singularly successful. In addition to a sense of prose rhythm, he has a knack for the right phrase, which he puts to sometimes shocking effect. We learn, for example, of the “ghoulish tide of frozen flesh” that spewed down the Little Missouri River in the spring of 1887, after a brutal winter iced thousands of cattle.

more here.