The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976

Book Reviews

Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent supposedly captured the essence of
Mexico, and remains important though unread. Greene's The Power and
the Glory-based partly on his The Lawless Roads-is probably more sig-
nificant, and certainly more widely read. But in technique and performance,
Miss Porter's stories about Mexico are as impressive as either longer work,
and Gunn has paid full tribute to this remarkable Texan. Occasional lapses
in judgment creep in, as in Gunn's timid observation that "Apparently the
country was somehow responsible for a sudden creative realization (on her
part)," when Miss Porter has said herself that she "ran smack into the
Obreg6n Revolution, and had, in the midst of it, the most marvelous, natu-
ral, spontaneous experience of my life." Why not let her speak for herself?
Again, after giving a perfectly acceptable reading of Porter's "Flowering
Judas," presumably his own, Gunn lamely concludes that the story does not
tell us in the end whether or not the people will change, which is of course
a deliberate ambiguity. A footnote here gives credit to a fellow professor,
reflecting a reliance on established opinion that recurs throughout the book.
In spite of this pedantic method, however, Gunn's work is important and
readable, and the bibliography is useful and complete.
Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District. By Miriam Partlow.
(Austin: Pemberton Press, 1974- Pp. 369. Illustrations, photographs,
appendix, index. $14.95.)
Miriam Partlow's history of the region between the Neches and the San
Jacinto rivers is a most uneven book. One suspects that it was written over
a long period of time, and one is certain that it deserved an editor who
could bring the worst chapters up to the high standards of the best. It is sad
that the lifetime work of a lay historian did not receive this service from the
The book is distinguished from the recent wave of hastily assembled
county histories by the fact that the author relied on public records and
archival material to underpin what emerges as the most important section:
a sound, thorough, and well-written account of the settlement and develop-
ment of the Mexican Municipality of Atascosito (Liberty after 1831) and
the counties that were carved from it from 1820 to 1860. Much original
material on the events leading up to the revolution is included, and the
result is a sixteen-chapter tour-de-force that demonstrates just how much
can be gleaned from census records, deeds, county commissioners' minutes,
and probate records, if one takes the time to read them. It will undoubtedly


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 18, 2015.