The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978

Book Reviews

The sketches, evidently done with a felt-tip pen for the artist's own
amusement, are highly informal. Most of them lack the detail necessary
to provide a "feel" for the subject. The heavy border used around the
sketches throughout is distracting.
Word sketches in Spanish and English trace ownership records of the
buildings and provide other bits of history, including data on such im-
portant but obscure builders as Henry Portscheller (p. 30). While credit
is due the author-artist for his numerous personal interviews, the result
would have been stronger had he checked the information against more
reliable sources. The legend that "Santa Anna watered his horses (and
probably his men also)" at Los Ojuelos-in eastern Webb County-on
his way to assault San Antonio in 1836 (p. 98) would not have stood
such a test; it takes the Mexican forces 150 miles off course. Too great
a reliance on historical markers is exemplified by the tale that erstwhile
followers of Pinfilo de Narviez in Mexico settled at Pefiitas (Hidalgo
County) in the middle 1520s (p. 12o).
Despite such flaws, Border Lands Sketchbook may stimulate the inter-
est of the less sophisticated reader in the bicultural region to which it.
pertains. The Glossary of Architectural Terms (p. 166) should help.
Austin, Texas ROBERT S. WEDDLE
The Tornado. By John Edward Weems. (Garden City: Doubleday &
Company, 1977. Pp. i+18o. Illustrations, bibliography, index.
$7.95.)
Many Quarterly readers will recall listening over their radios on the
night of May 11, 1953, to the vivid, grim accounts of rescue operations
going on in downtown Waco following the visit of Texas's deadliest tor-
nado. It was three nights and three days before all the bodies were un-
covered, and the death toll reached 114.
There have been worse disasters in Texas history-the Galveston
flood (1900) and the New London and Texas City explosions (1937 and
1947)-but each major disaster has a story worth retelling. Once John
Weems gets past his many digressions, he recounts the Waco story very
well. Drawing upon rich newspaper files and many personal interviews
plus his own eyewitness observations, he gives an almost minute-by-
minute account of the storm, and he provides a great deal of informa-
tion on the nature and history of tornadoes. One learns that 85 percent
of tornadoes follow a path from southwest to northeast; that tornadoes
have visited every state in the union except Hawaii, Alaska, and little

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/. Accessed August 21, 2014.