To Americans the word frontier usually evokes images of cowboys and Indians, longhorns and buffalo, and shoot-outs on Main Street--in short, the American West. Yet other countries, too, have had their frontiers, and the entire New World served as a frontier for Europeans after the fifteenth century. The study of frontiers that began with the works of Frederick Jackson Turner and Walter Prescott Webb has in recent years developed a comparative dimension. The five essays of this volume look at European expansion into Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Southern Africa, and Australia. The authors assess for their particular regions the effects of European trade and settlement on both the environment and the native peoples, the role of racial attitudes, the development of the economy and the characteristics of the labor force, the growth of frontier institutions, and the relation of the frontier region to the European "metropolis." While the essays are not explicitly comparative, they suggest a rich variety of comparative insights into the development of the frontier in world history.
The authors of the essays and their contributions are Philip Wayne Powell, "North America's First Frontier, 1546-1603"; W.J. Eccles, "The Frontiers of New France"; Warren Dean, "Ecological and Economic Relationships in Frontier History: Sao Paulo, Brazil"; Leonard Thompson, "The Southern African Frontier in Comparative Perspective"; and Robin W. Winks, " Australia, the Frontier, and the Tyranny of Distance."