The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979

Book Reviews

personal, public, business, and photographic records essential to local
history. The strongest sources for this study are personal documents of
persons who lived in Indianola or were otherwise directly associated with
it, but both the bibliography and footnotes suggest an otherwise meager
base of sources and a conspicuous reliance on a limited number of com-
monplace and occasionally obsolete secondary materials.
From the point of view of any serious historian, the book's docu-
mentation fails to direct him clearly to its sources; and the abbreviated
form does not reflect well upon the publisher. The book's slavishly
chronological organization, inclusion of irrelevant detail, and overuse
of pointlessly extended quotations give it the character of published
research notes, rather than of research carefully synthesized into solid
historical prose. Much readability is thereby lost.
The strength of this study lies in the admirable amount of data it
compiles on Indianola and the varied aspects of Texas history related to
that once promising port: such as the German immigration of the 1840s;
importation of camels for Jeff Davis's famed experiment in military
transportation; secession and the Civil War; exportation of beef during
the cattle boom; and railroad building in the 187os and 188os.
West Texas State University FREDERICK W. RATHJEN
A Loose Herd of Texans. By Bill Porterfield. (College Station: Texas
A&cM Press, 1978. Pp. 198. Introduction. $io.)
A Loose Herd of Texans is a collection of short articles about some
unusual people, by Dallas writer Bill Porterfield. The articles were writ-
ten over the past fifteen years and were originally published in the
Houston Chronicle, the Texas Observer, Texas Monthly, D: The Mag-
azine of Dallas, the Chicago Daily News (a piece about Percy Foreman),
and a magazine published by the Dupont Corporation called Context.
It is a loose herd indeed, but just a little judicious cutting would have
made it quite manageable. A few of the shorter pieces should have been
omitted, especially several that deal with picturesque Mexicans in a style
that is reminiscent of some of Ernest Hemingway's worst excesses ("A
sudden tenderness for her moved him" p. 50). They are not really repre-
sentative of the author's mature style. A careful editor might also have
straightened out a reference in the first essay to "Japanese aircraft car-
riers sailing boldly toward Pearl Harbor" (p. 8) on a hot summer day
in 1941. That kind of thing shakes a reader's faith in an author, espe-
cially when the author is a newspaper reporter.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101206/. Accessed August 27, 2014.