Paul W. Mapp reframes the conventional US-centered history of the American West by studying the region’s claimants during the century preceding American supremacy. In the eighteenth century, three European nations (Great Britain, France, and Spain) and occasionally a fourth (Russia) strove to claim the territory that now forms the midwestern and western United States. According to Mapp, the failure of these powers to secure accurate geographical knowledge about the terrain (especially the Rocky Mountains) played a crucial role in their inability to establish hegemony over the territory. Of the three major powers, Britain remained the least interested in exploration overland into the interior of the continent, devoting its efforts instead to finding a northern water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific (the nonexistent Northwest Passage) and a second water route across the Pacific to the western coast of the present-day United States....

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