The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980

Book Reviews

As long as users keep in mind the fact that the pictures are one artist's
conception of the appearance of those vessels the users will probably
not be misled. Should they attempt to interpret the prints as accurate
portraits of the individual vessels they may find their positions un-
Texas A&M University CHARLES R. SCHULTZ
Rivers, Rockets and Readiness: Army Engineers in the Sunbelt. By D.
Clayton Brown. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing
Office, 1979. Pp. xv+ 193. Maps, table, illustrations, bibliography,
index. $1 o.)
To commemorate our recent bicentennial the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers initiated official histories of its thirty-eight districts and se-
lected historian D. Clayton Brown, of Texas Christian University, to
write the story of the Fort Worth District (FWD), the "largest combined
military and civil works district in the United States" (p. vi).
The FWD was carved out of the older Galveston District in 1950 and
given initially only flood control authority. Brown has written an in-
clusive narrative of those projects undertaken by the FWD during its
first twenty-five years. It built approximately one large reservoir or
floodway annually while extending its activities to include disaster re-
lief, space and military construction, and, recently, wastewater manage-
ment. Construction of the Johnson Space Center was the largest and
most difficult assignment of the FWD, building Camp Gary perhaps the
most unexpected, and erring in the construction of Waco Dam the most
The District fought and lost its greatest battle when voters in 1973
rejected the Trinity River canal project. Brown traces the history of the
canal proposal, event by event, down to the fateful vote that killed
channelization of the river. He concludes rightly that the canal is dead
"for the foreseeable future" (p. viii), yet defends the position of the
FWD in the controversy.
Brown claims that his monograph is more objective than most official
histories and was written from an humanitarian rather than a technical
perspective. In general, his contentions are valid, but references to
"unconquered streams" (p. 17) and to the Missouri River Pick Plan
as a "largescale improvement project" (p. 25) are hardly objective, and
readers may need to dig out their dictionaries to identify a piezometer.
In addition, Brown uses some irksome phrases-"Yankee municipal


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed August 28, 2015.