Toward a Revival of Midwestern History
In addition to outlining the centrality of the Midwest to crucial moments in American history, Lauck resurrects long-forgotten stories of institutions founded by an earlier generation of midwestern historians, from state historical societies to the Mississippi Valley Historical Association. Their strong commitment to local and regional communities rooted their work in place and gave it an audience outside the academy. He also explores the works of these scholars, showing that they researched a broad range of themes and topics, often pioneering fields that remain vital today.
“Jon Lauck justifiably laments the neglect of the Midwest by both the contemporary media and, more surprisingly, by historians, but this book is a robust and persuasive response rather than a complaint. The Midwest is vital to any explanation of the United States, and at one time midwesterners—particularly his Prairie Historians—explained the region to itself and praised its importance to the rest of the country. He is right. Historians need to refill the space they once occupied.”
—Richard White, Stanford University
“Jon Lauck has written the definitive manifesto for a new midwestern historiography. Deeply researched, elegantly written, passionate yet sensible in its themes, it is a stunning book. One hopes that it will stun the coasties, for example, who believe that the fly-over states, many of them beginning with the letter I, have no serious history. Lauck shows that an America without the Midwest would have been less fair, less strong, less prosperous, and above all less democratic. Lauck is the new Frederick Jackson Turner, reminding us that the Midwest is the master spring of American history—without which, not.”
—Deirdre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of History, University of Illinois at Chicago, and author, The Bourgeois Virtues