Back in the Saddle Again. By Gene Autry with Mickey Herskowitz.
(New York: Doubleday & Co., 1978. Pp. 152. Acknowledgment,
Among other things, Gene Autry claims in this autobiography to
have rescued low-budget westerns from the Great Depression doldrums.
While he may exaggerate on this point, he was responsible for adding
a new format to the genre-the horse opera. His films created a fantasy
world (usually in the contemporary rather than Old West) in which
songs generally replaced action. Those movie-introduced songs enabled
him to become a major recording artist. Mild-mannered and totally
without chiseled-from-granite masculine features so common to cowboy
movie heroes, Gene, rather than shooting it out with the bad guys, dis-
armed them with a tune. Even though critics mocked his style, he was
more constantly popular than any of his numerous imitators. And un-
like most of his peers. Autry was not only able to hang onto his movie
earnings but parlay them into a multimillion dollar empire that today
includes ownership of radio and television stations, hotels, and a major
league baseball team.
Autry recounts his career with considerable humor and admirable
candor, but not too much humility. It is only natural that he should be
proud of the values he imparted on the screen. Yet his pride devolves
to smugness when he implies that they are superior to values demon-
strated by a current generation of film makers. These and other quasi-
sociological and political ruminations, as well as the sometimes too-cute
prose of coauthor Mickey Herskowitz, are intrusions in an otherwise
pleasurable and nostalgic reading experience.
Texas A&M University LARRY D. HILL
Border Boom Town: Ciudad Judrez since 1848. By Oscar J. Martinez.
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978. Pp. xvi+231. Introduc-
tion, illustrations, appendices, bibliography. $12.95.)
This study of the development of Ciudad JuArez since the end of the
United States-Mexican War traces the socioeconomic gyrations to which
that border community has been subjected in the last century and a
quarter. Martinez outlines the growing dependence of Jumrez on El
Paso, the impact of the Zona Libre or Free Trade Zone, the role of the
Mexican Revolution, United States prohibition, and the Great Depres-
sion on that major border area. War and post-war developments also
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 January 31, 2015.