Old Blues Road: A Historians Motorcycle Journeys in the American West | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/book-review/old-blues-road-historians-motorcycle-journeys-american-west[12/7/2015 3:10:45 PM] Home Old Blues Road: A Historians Motorcycle Journeys in the American WestOld Blues Road: A Historians Motorcycle Journeys in the American WestSubmitted by barlowk on 6-30-2015 01:28 PMAuthor: James Whiteside EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWhile on the Dominguez-Escalante expedition in 1776, Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco drew the first map of Colorado.
Old Blues Road: A Historians Motorcycle Journeys in the American West | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/book-review/old-blues-road-historians-motorcycle-journeys-american-west[12/7/2015 3:10:45 PM] Publishing: Old Blues Road: A Historians Motorcycle Journeys in the American West By James Whiteside. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2015. 282 pages. Black-and-white photographs. 5 x 8. $19.95 paperback. Reviewer: Craig Leavitt As a preschool child, retired University of Colorado Denver history professor James Whiteside identified so strongly with the Lone Ranger that he insisted to teachers and relatives that he was in fact the fictional masked man of 1950s radio and television fame. As an adult, Whitesides fascination with the iconography of the imagined West gave way to serious study of the much more complex and nuanced reality. He has combined his keen grasp of Western history with his love for motorcycle travel in a compelling new book, Old Blues Road: A Historians Motorcycle Journeys in the American West Named for his trusty Harley Davidson, Old Blue, Whitesides tome rewards readers with its deft mixture of the time-honored American road book and cogent insights on the important processes of human, economic, political, cultural, and environmental development. . that both define the region as a place and link its history intimately with the larger history of the United States and the world (7). The first chapter, Family Reunion, traces a journey to Victoria, British Columbia, with insights about mining conflicts and Chief Josephs Wallowa Nez Perce tribe dispensed along the way. Chapter 2, The Great Basin, considers Indian tribes of the Columbia River, the westward migration of Mormons, and contemporary efforts of a right-wing preacher and his disciple to paint Southern slavery as a rather benign institution. Four Trails, Two Rivers offers reflections upon highlights and lowlights of early Colorado historythe discovery of gold and the reprehensible massacre at Sand Creekas well as a meditation on the complex intersection of Hispanic, Native, and Anglo cultures in the American Southwest. In Four Corners, Whiteside relates the rise and fall of Ancestral Puebloan communities to the boom-and-bust cycles that characterize modern Western history, and notes that the landscape of the Four Corners region is dramatic evidence of how the Earth rearranges itself, that the world is both eternal and transient (141). The conceit of using present-day road trips to frame historical discussion is most effective in Chapters 5 and 6, entitled Warrior Trail: Triumph, and Warrior Trail: Catastrophe, respectively. Tracing the heroic but ultimately futile resistance of Native American tribes to the inexorable encroachment of Euro-American settlers and their military protectors, these chapters weave together narrative and analysis with astute observations on contemporary historical memory and the difficulties of official commemoration of controversial events. Visiting the famous site of Custers Last Stand, Whiteside bristles at objections from some white visitors to the 1991 addition of an Indian Memorial and the renaming of Custer Battlefield as Little Bighorn National Battlefield. Responding to charges of revisionism from whites who seem frustrated at losing control of history, he writes, I do not object to being called a revisionist; in fact, I embrace it. However, I think inclusionist is a better term. Renaming the Little Bighorn Battlefield and building the Indian Memorial there does not erase Custer and his men from the scene or from history. Instead, it includes all the other people who were there. And that more truly respects Americas history and democratic values (207). In his travels, Whiteside meets many vivid characters who help to illuminate the histories of the unique places they inhabit. But Old Blues Road does not offer easy nostalgia about the West. The author who once idolized the Lone Ranger now looks past the mythologized West to share his insights about the complex social, environmental, political, and economic forces that have shaped its true history. His strong, clear prose and engaging technique of blending history with travel will win over both the serious student of the West and the more casual reader. Old Blues Road is heartily recommended to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the region.
Old Blues Road: A Historians Motorcycle Journeys in the American West | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/book-review/old-blues-road-historians-motorcycle-journeys-american-west[12/7/2015 3:10:45 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Reviewer Info: Craig Leavitt is a recent MA graduate in history at the University of Colorado Denver, a former Koch Fellow at History Colorado, former editor of University of Colorado Denvers Historical Studies Journal and the former content manager for the Center for Colorado & the Wests website. He has published a history of the historic African-American resort at Lincoln Hills in Colorado Heritage and coauthored a book chronicling the history of Denvers Hilltop Heritage Association. He coauthored Colorado Newspapers: A History and Inventory, 1859, published in 2015 by the Colorado Press Association. Leavitt is also the coauthor of Herndon Davis: Painting Colorado History, 1901 to be published in 2016 by University Press of Colorado.