The book begins with the struggle over where to build the Pacific railway and fix the nation’s first transcontinental axis. Meinig portrays in detail the settlement of the diverse regions of the American West and how these many “Wests” were incorporated into the growing nation. He then examines the South as an imperial province and the dominance of the American Core over an increasingly consolidated nation. In conclusion, the author considers America’s imperial pressures upon Canada and Mexico, the country’s overt expansions in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and the Panama Canal as a transcontinental completion.
“The geographical development of the nation in this period comes through with a fullness and power that make this book a compelling read for anyone with any curiosity about the American experience on this continent.”—Michael P. Conzen, University of Chicago