Sight Unseen: How Fremont's First Expedition Changed the American Landscape (Paperback)
  • Sight Unseen: How Fremont's First Expedition Changed the American Landscape (Paperback)
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Sight Unseen: How Fremont's First Expedition Changed the American Landscape (Paperback)

(author)
£18.99
Paperback 288 Pages / Published: 01/09/2018
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John C. Fremont was the most celebrated explorer of his era. In 1842, on the first of five expeditions he would lead to the Far West, Fremont and a small party of men journeyed up the Kansas and Platte Rivers to the Wind River Range in Wyoming. At the time, virtually this entire region was known as the Great Desert, and many Americans viewed it and the Rocky Mountains beyond as natural barriers to the United States. After Congress published Fremont's official report of the expedition, however, few doubted the nation should expand to the Pacific.
The first in-depth study of this remarkable report, Sight Unseen argues that Fremont used both a radical form of art and an imaginary map to create an aesthetic desire for expansion. He not only redefined the Great Desert as a novel and complex environment, but on a summit of the Wind River Range, he envisioned the Continental Divide as a feature that would unify rather than impede a larger nation.
In addition to provoking the great migration to Oregon and providing an aesthetic justification for the National Park system, Fremont's report profoundly altered American views of geography, progress, and the need for a transcontinental railroad. By helping to shape the very notion of Manifest Destiny, the report became one of the most important documents in the history of American landscape.

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
ISBN: 9781496205599
Number of pages: 288
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Anyone interested in how Americans transformed western lands from obstacles into symbols of national achievement will find much of value in Menard's work."-Jared Orsi, Kansas History -- Jared Orsi * Kansas History *
"[A] sharp and canny synthesis. . . . Most impressive in Sight Unseen is the meticulous way Menard makes his case that [Fremont's] imaginative transformation was a textual one."-Robert Thacker, Western American Literature -- Robert Thacker * Western American Literature *
"Through the imaginative eyes of Fremont, Menard makes significant strides in linking the words of the explorer and naturalist to the cultural concept that would shape the future land use and settlement of the American West."-Camden Burd, Historical Geography -- Camden Burd * Historical Geography *
"Crisply written, deliciously illustrated."-Ryan Boyd, Great Plains Quarterly -- Ryan Boyd * Great Plains Quarterly *
"Sight Unseen is a rigorously researched, exceptionally astute, and well-reasoned interdisciplinary study of a report that defined America's emerging ideology of progress. It is a splendid contribution to the historiography of both Fremont and nineteenth-Century America."Fred MacVaugh, Nebraska History * Nebraska History *
"[Sight Unseen is] a well-written work revealing an essential part of the history of the North American continent."-G.J. Martin, Choice -- G.J. Martin * Choice *

"Sight Unseen is a book for anyone who loves maps, landscape, and historical intricacy. . . . Anchored by the image of the explorer waving his nation's flag from a mountain peak, Menard's account of Fremont's expedition enlivens the rhetoric of a triumphal national narrative. Like the explorer's Report, Sight Unseen melds scientific, symbolic, and aesthetic views of a nation that knew no bounds."-Lucy R. Lippard, author of Down Country, winner of the Caroline Bancroft History Prize

-- Lucy R. Lippard
"Eloquent, lively, and learned, with an intellectual breadth as wide as a Rocky Mountains horizon, Andrew Menard's Sight Unseen ably reconnoiters geographies of both imagination and terra firma. This fascinating book recovers the American West as John Fremont found it and shows us how the explorer taught us to see American landscapes-and America itself-anew."-Tom Chaffin, author of Pathfinder: John Charles Fremont and the Course of American Empire -- Tom Chaffin

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