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The more foreboding and cautionary tale which increasing numbers of Western historians have offered in place of Turner's account has provoked sharp controversy. "New" Western historians -- many of whom actually echo and draw upon fairly old scholarly works -- often argue that their accounts offer a more inclusive and honest reckoning of the Western past. Western historians who still adhere roughly to Turner's approach accuse their opponents of mistaking a simple-minded political correctness for good scholarship in their quest to recount only the doom and gloom of the Western past. Often the rhetoric reaches an acrimonious crescendo. But in a sense, the very acrimony of these debates takes us full circle back to Turner and his legacy, for debates about the significance of Western history are hardly ever confined to the past. In our understanding of what we are as a nation, if on no other level, the Western past continues to define us today.
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More recently Glenda Riley has argued that Turner’s thesis ignored women. She argues that his context and upbringing led him to ignore the female portion of society, which directly led to the frontier becoming an exclusively male phenomenon.  The exclusion of women is one of the central debates around his work, particularly referred to by New Western Historians .
He died in 1932 in San Marino, California , where he had been a research associate at the Huntington Library .
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