The Western History Association has selected the UNM Press title The American Military Frontiers: The United States Army in the West, 1783-1900 by Robert Wooster as the 2010 winner of the Robert M. Utley Award. The Utley Award is given annually for the best book published on the military history of the frontier and western North America – including Mexico and Canada – from prehistory through the 20th century.
In The American Military Frontiers, Wooster looks to the time when our fledgling nation turned to the army to advance and defend its national interests, particularly concerning land beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Clashing with Spain, Britain, France, Mexico, the Confederacy and Indians in this pursuit of expansion, the army's failures and successes alternately delayed and hastened western migration. Roads, river improvements, and railroads often constructed or facilitated by the army, further solidified the nation's presence as it reached the Pacific Ocean and expanded north and south to the borders of Canada and Mexico. Western military experiences thus illustrate the dual role played by the United States Army in insuring national security and fostering national development.
Wooster examines the fundamental importance of military affairs to social, economic and political life throughout the borderlands and western frontiers. Integrating the work of other military historians as well as tapping into a broad array of primary materials, Wooster offers a multifaceted narrative that helps shape our understanding of the frontier military experience, its relationship with broader concerns of national politics, and its connection to major themes and events in American history.
Wooster will receive the award at the Annual Awards Banquet during the Western History Association Conference in Lake Tahoe, Nev., next month.
Wooster is Regents Professor of history at Texas A&M; University-Corpus Christi. He is author or editor of 10 books on the army, the West and the Civil War, most recently Frontier Crossroads: Fort Davis and the West.
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- Inside UNM