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Historical Atlas of the American West    by Derek Hayes order for
Historical Atlas of the American West
by Derek Hayes
Order:  USA  Can
University of California, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Anyone who loves gazing at vintage maps will enjoy spending hours with the Historical Atlas of the American West by Derek Hayes.

Spectacular in its scope and visual impact, this oversized atlas offers a sweeping history of the American West through over 6,700 original, full-color maps and extended captions. From the earliest human inhabitants and the first European explorers to the national parks and retirement resorts of today, this extensive collection chronicles the West from uncharted territory to a well-populated Eden.

Witness the boundary lines of new states snake through Native American lands, see the frontier transformed as settlers and the railroad move toward the Pacific, and watch the West's cities - from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Albuquerque to Anchorage - rise and prosper.

The first atlas to compile all the historically significant maps relating to the American West, this volume includes field sketches of battles, the first maps to show the West, maps depicting mythical rivers and fictional towns, and maps showing early conceptions of California as an island.

The maps themselves are of different types; in fact, some may not even be considered maps at all. Some are promotional bird's-eye views of cities, some are field sketches that define geological, scientific or political boundaries, and others show the rough routes of pioneer wagons and later the railroad and interstate highway system.

'Almost every map in this book is a contemporary one; that is, it was drawn or published at the time of the event it depicts,' writes Hayes. 'As such, the maps offer a unique view - the West the explorer understood, perhaps indistinctly or inaccurately; a planned route for a railroad that might differ from what was actually built; or explanations of projects, often shown in imaginative ways.'

But no matter the shape, form or eccentricities of its creation, in their entirety these many maps provide a fascinating view of the West. Although a tad pricey, this atlas is worth every cent as you'll no doubt agree after you page through it.

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