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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Book Reviews

blacks were not just victims but actors, helping to shape their families,
communities, self-concepts, language, religion, art, and music through
acceptance, resistance, and rebellion.
The series, New Perspectives on the South, is probably the occasion
for the production of this book and the reason for some of its limita-
tions. The focus of the series title restricts comparisons with non-
southern blacks. While Boles is aware of domestic and international
comparative studies of slavery and plantation societies, both his text
and bibliographic essay slight this topic after 18oo. [For a discussion
of this literature and its importance, see Peter Kolchin, "Reevaluating
the Antebellum Slave Community: A Comparative Perspective,"
Journal of American History, LXX (Dec., 1983).] The series's tradi-
tional, southern-white orientation might explain Boles's "no-fault"
interpretations, which pointedly refuse to blame anyone for an ad-
mittedly evil institution, except when discussing African complicity in
the slave trade.
The format of the series might restrict the book's audience. The
brevity imposed upon the volumes precludes detailed individual or
state studies or comparisons. The stress upon issues restricts Boles's nar-
rative style, and, while the book may appeal to undergraduate and gen-
eral readers, the lack of footnotes to describe participants in the contro-
versies (despite the bibliographic essay) limits its value for graduate
students. Its price hinders its being assigned as required reading.
Disagreement with specific interpretations is to be expected, but it is
surprising that Boles does not discuss basic black histories by August
Meier and Elliot Rudwick, Vincent Harding, and Mary Frances Berry
and John W. Blassingame.
Wiley College ROBERT G. SHERER
When Dallas Became a City: Letters of John Milton McCoy, r870-
r88r. Edited by Elizabeth York Enstam. (Dallas: Dallas Historical
Society, 1982. Pp. x+ 176. Acknowledgments, foreword, introduc-
tion, illustrations, epilogue, notes, index. $22.95.)
This splendid collection of letters is a virtual time machine that
transports the reader back to an important decade and enables him to
experience the sights, sounds, and smells of everyday life in a hard-
driving market town as it steadily developed into a modern city. The
book is also an insightful personal history of one of the unobtrusive
builders of Dallas, John Milton McCoy, an articulate, well educated


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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