The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939

Book Reviews

35,000 Days in Texas: A History of the Dallas News and Its
Forbears. By Sam Acheson. (New York: The Macmillan
Company, 1938. Pp. xviii, 337. Illustrations. Price $2.50.)
With loving care but realistic detachment, Mr. Acheson has told
the dramatic story of a great American newspaper. Thirteen years'
connection with the paper as a member of its editorial staff has
so steeped the author in its traditions that he has personified his
subject and written a biography rather than an historical chronicle.
In a writer less intellectually honest, this point of view could have
impaired the value of the book as a contribution to Texas history.
Although the Dallas Morning News was not established until
October 1, 1885, it can rightfully claim direct descent from the
Galveston News, a circumstance which permits the author to add
a hundred pages to the text and 15,000 days to the title. In its
life of nearly a hundred years the paper has been dominated by
three great journalists, Willard Richardson, Alfred H. Belo, and
George B. Dealey. Richardson guided the paper from almost its
beginning to Reconstruction days, and was responsible for winning
the confidence of the people of Texas in its editorial integrity.
Belo's business judgment and organizing ability placed the paper
on a sound financial basis, and made possible the Dallas unit of
the institution. The task of the present leader, George B. Dealey,
has been to make the Dallas News a pervasive agent in directing
the social and economic movements that have faced Texans in the
last thirty years.
During most of its existence, the News has been conservative, in
the English sense, in politics. For its first fifty years it sought
reform through political action, but since about 1897 it has empha-
sized the cultural and economic education of the people as the
surest way of forwarding the progress of Texas. For decades the
News has been a leader in shaping the ideas and ideals of American
journalism, and has been a model for no less a newspaper than the
New York Times in keeping "the vulgar, the inane, and the sen-
sational" from its columns.
A brief bibliographical note states that the book is written almost
exclusively from the files of the paper. In this lies its lasting
contribution to Texas history, its high readability, and its
greatest defect. Unfortunately, the files of the Galveston News for
the 1840's are extremely fragmentary, and without this source to

165

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101107/. Accessed October 23, 2014.