Arguably the most influential writer/thinker in the study of American history, Turner's work was without question a pivot point in telling the story of this country. The field has become demarcated as Before Turner and Since Turner, and even in disagreement his works have created an entirely new enterprise called New Western History.
His writings have had a significant influence on my understanding of this work I've embarked on, opening up realms for me in at least four levels.
- In strictly historical terms I have come to a much clearer overview of the dynamics of the settling of the continent.
- I've been introduced in very concrete terms to the interplay and the integral nature of geography in the understanding of history.
- From a vague sense to a certain and specific definition, Jackson has given me an understanding of the importance of history in the mature life.
- I've been given a living example of the way the study of history is the study of vast and complex systems.
In a sense this becomes a manifesto.
Yet even as I write this I shy away from the tone of finality that word brings, the implication that it has been thought through enough to be complete.
It's a beginning.