The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

that territory and state. Paul E. Isaac, in the only selection that falls
outside the area of Lathrop's teaching speciality, describes the efforts
of William Howard Taft to break the Solid South by capturing Ten-
nessee in 19o8, efforts that were doomed by intrastate factionalism. A
thoughtful and succinct article contributed by Stephen B. Oates traces
the development of Abraham Lincoln from early confusion to a de-
termined policy on slavery and the purposes of the war and Recon-
struction. Frank E. Vandiver furnishes an expository essay on Jeffer-
son Davis that is in essence a call for an understanding of the Con-
federate president as a man shaped by tragedy.
The selections in this volume contribute little that will change or
influence the course of historical interpretation. There is no central
theme other than an aim to honor a scholar and mentor who deserves
to be honored.
North Texas State University JACK B. SCROGGS
Fred Gipson: Texas Storyteller. By Mike Cox. (Austin: Shoal Creek
Publishers, Inc., 1980. Pp. xx+233. Preface, introduction, illus-
trations, appendices, sources, index. $15.)
Fred Gipson died in 1973 at age sixty-five. As a writer Gipson
earned during his lifetime considerable money and acclaim for his
tales of the Texas Hill Country, particularly the area around his native
Mason County. On the surface Gipson's career seems the fulfillment
of an "American dream": a fun-loving, small-town boy reached the
heights of popularity when Walt Disney filmed his stories and made
them known to millions. In reality, though, the dream turned sour.
In Fred Gipson: Texas Storyteller, Mike Cox, an Austin journalist,
supplies a well-documented and revealing account of the author's life
and career.
At one point in the book Cox refers to the latent "literary great-
ness" (p. 137) that Gipson's friends sensed in the man. More than once
an analogy between Gipson and Mark Twain is invoked. Despite some
similarities, Gipson was no Texas Mark Twain, at least not in terms
of artistic accomplishment. "Literary greatness" usually springs from
self-discipline and stamina as much as from raw talent. Unfortunately,
Gipson never came close to using all of his literary gifts.
Joe Small, in his introduction to Cox's biography, claims that the
"pain, sorrow, complications and tragedy" (p. xx) of Gipson's later
years prevented him from living up to his full potential as a writer. It

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/. Accessed May 25, 2015.