OTIS A. SINGLETARY, Editor
The King Ranch. By Tom Lea. Two volumes, Boston (Little,
Brown and Company), 1957. Pp. 838. Illustrations, maps,
notes, and index. $17.50.
From this handsome set the reader's first impression is the
gratifying assurance that the art of making fine books has not been
lost. The stately type, laid paper, blended maps and pictures, and
sturdy binding would do honor to the master printers of a more
leisurely era. While the illustrations and maps are from the skilled
hand of the author, earlier celebrated as an artist, credit for the
design of the book goes to another Texan, Carl Hertzog. The
printing was done in El Paso and the binding in San Antonio.
Equally impressive is the digging that was done to assemble all
the information needed for this comprehensive work on the vast
King Ranch and its founder. For that, the author leaned on the
research of Holland McCombs, who reached back to many obscure
sources and brought out a store of enlightening details.
Those credits do not detract from the praise deserved by Tom
Lea for the writing. To his laurels as an artist and a novelist, he
has added equally green ones as a historian. In writing of Richard
King, the stowaway boy who became a steamboat captain on the
Rio Grande and later built one of the country's largest ranches,
Lea applies an imaginative touch like that of Carl Sandburg in
treating the prairie Lincoln. Yet he never lapses into distortion
Viewed from afar, the career of Captain King looks like a
typical Horatio Alger tale; but Tom Lea shows that it involved
long years of hard work, unusual patience, insight into frontier
conditions, and faith in the future. To gain the bigger things he
wanted to achieve, King dared to risk what he had.
Lea notes that the King Ranch of today owes its eminence not
only to its founder but to his successors. The development was
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/. Accessed August 30, 2014.