The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954

Book Reviews

the "anonymity of medievalism through a parabola of freedom
to the present age" in which he appears to be returning to an-
onymity. How much the human spirit may count for in the
destiny of the individual is not considered. Webb, however,
stated he was leaving the human element for the attention of other
writers; thus he cannot be accused of missing the point.
In delineating the frontier influence on the rise of modern
capitalism, Webb develops the "windfall" and "vertical pulsation
of wealth" theories. He defines frontier windfalls as "things"
which came into the hands of "the rising capitalistic class with
one or more items of the ordinary cost of production, partially
or completely eliminated." His accounts of the primary windfalls,
"involving more work and less luck," such as the plantation, farm
and ranch cattle industries, are striking examples of Webb's
power of conviction and talents as a story-teller.
The vertical flow of wealth as an explanation of the dynamic
character of the Frontier Age is a new and simple economic prin-
ciple in contrast with the familiar idea of the horizontal motion
of wealth from hand to hand. Webb illustrates the vertical flow
in three phases: The first, the acquisition of wealth (land) from
1500 to 1700oo by the sovereign through discovery and claim; the
second, the period of dispersion by the sovereign to the people
from 1607 to 1900, followed by an interim between 1900 and
1930 when the flow was changing direction; and the present and
third phase of the acquisition of wealth by the government from
the people in the form of taxes and socialization of industry.
The Great Frontier thesis is large in its implications for the
future of western civilization and rich in scholarly resources. The
book is written with flashes of eloquence, with sparks of wit, and
with the all-pervading charm of simplicity. It is a "must" reading
for the professional historian and profitable and enjoyable read-
ing for the layman.
EDITH PARKER
Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story. By J. O. Langford with Fred
Gipson. Austin (The University of Texas Press), 1952. Pp.
viii + 159. $3.50.
Big Bend is a beautiful little book from the front cover to
the back endpapers. The design-a little Sonora fantail deer-on

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/. Accessed July 29, 2015.