Winner of the 2012 Bancroft Prize
The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 doubled the size of the new United States, promising not only land but prosperity for its citizens. But the West was not the virgin wilderness of common myth. Rather, as historian Anne F. Hyde makes clear in her groundbreaking, prizewinning history, America was a newcomer in a place already complicated by vying empires–native and European. Here, for the first time, she traces the network of multiethnic family associations, which, along with the river systems of the trans-Mississippi West, had formed the basis for the global fur trade for centuries. Involved with this trade were trappers, hunters, merchants, bankers, and politicians by the thousands. Dazzling in its breadth and startling in its intimacy, Empires, Nations, and Families provides a new look at Native nations and the economies and societies they built as well as a radically new understanding of the web of families, businesses, and personal empires that organized the North American West before the Civil War and the rise of the American empire.
Anne F. Hyde is the William R. Hochman Professor of History at Colorado College. She is the author of An American Vision: Far Western Landscape and National Culture, 1820-1920, and the coauthor, with William Deverell, of The West in the History of the Nation.