In Making a Modern U.S. West, Sarah Deutsch provides a sweeping update to previous efforts at a bird's-eye history of the US West. The book refreshingly centers labor and work as part of a series designed to push the boundaries of western history, connecting themes like infrastructure development, financial trends, and labor migration within a history of borders and empire. Deutsch explains, “In this period the ‘frontier’ with its seemingly limitless opportunity became a place with borders” (9). Within this framework, Deutsch demonstrates how stratified categories of race, gender, and class were lived out in the daily experiences of people such as miners, migrant workers, and employees throughout the region. Deutsch demonstrates how in the West a “contest over both [the] vision of the past and various visions of the future” set the parameters of what modernity and the modern nation-state would look like (2).

The book is organized...

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