Carl O. Sauer, dean of American environmental and cultural geography and historical geographer, played an important part in the development of geography as an academic discipline in the United States. The founder of a large school of geographers, Sauer was also largely responsible for the establishment of the Ibero-Americana series published by the University of California Press.
Sauer was trained and began his career in the Midwest, and was brought to the University of California, Berkeley, in 1923. His field work and publications during the major part of his teaching career on the Berkeley campus dealt with Lower California and northwestern Mexico. That his horizons were always broad, his analysis profound, becomes clear from his contributions to scholarship that appeared following his retirement from the classroom. His well-known Early Spanish Main appeared in 1966, Northern Mist in 1968, and Sixteenth-Century North America: The Land and People as Seen by Europeans in 1971.
The volume under review deals with the Borderlands of New Spain, New France, and the Gulf area. It relies heavily on excerpts from contemporary sources, such as government reports, accounts, and records. It is essentially an introduction to the conditions of land, nature, and Indian life as seen by Spanish and French participants. The volume was in draft when Sauer died in 1975. It does not read as smoothly as does his sixteenth-century volume. Although the study does not contain new material, it will prove useful as a good summary and outline of the author’s ideas and interpretations. Among its other virtues, the book establishes what a helpful handmaiden geography can be to history.