In popular media’s representation of the American West, and even in the history books, the contributions of many groups are glossed over, and in some cases, even omitted, and while many of these groups have been people of color, some have not. The Germans are but one example. In her book, Looking for Humboldt & Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond, German-American author Erika Schelby fills in some of the blanks. An in-depth look at the contributions of Germans to American development, Schelby’s work goes far beyond the story of Alexander von Humboldt, the man who put New Mexico and the American southwest on the map—an actual map that he presented to Thomas Jefferson—and looks at the intricate and often conflicting relationships among the European powers before the twentieth century and how they impacted the development of the United States.
Seen through the eyes of someone who came to age in a different cultural and educational environment, Looking for Humboldt gives a much-needed fresh perspective on the country’s history that will enhance our understanding of past and current events.
This is not a dry recitation of events, people, and dates, but a lively look at a most fascinating, but little understood, facet of U.S. history. Highly recommended. I give it five stars.