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

Book Reviews

of this truly impressive work not detract from it needlessly. Papers
Concerning Robertson's Colony is the product of years of research and
will be relied on by scholars of the period for years to come. Its value
will be much greater if materials are presented in a balanced and even-
handed manner.
Lamar University ADRIAN N. ANDERSON
The World of Colonel John W. Thomason, USMC: Artist, Writer,
Marine. By Martha Anne Turner. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1984.
Pp. xvi+4o5. Acknowledgments, preface, illustrations, bibliogra-
phy, index. $19.95.)
At once professional soldier, author, and war artist extraordinaire-
in an era when the photographer had already displaced the combat
artist as sole, or even chief, pictorial chronicler of the battlefield-
Colonel John W. Thomason was assuredly the preeminent marine of
his time. Thomason's self-illustrated literary works-among them Fix
Bayonets!, Jeb Stuart, and Lone Star Preacher-reflect his experiences
in the marine corps actions of World War I, the Banana Wars of the
192os, and his service as a company commander at the Peking legation
in the war-torn China of the 1930s and are still widely read and re-
spected by military buffs and historians.
It was as artist, perhaps, that Thomason was to have his most abid-
ing influence. His break with the rigidity of the battlefield art of his
past, his employment of the free-flowing line that tends to infuse his
finished pictures with the action, the drama, and the immediacy of
the sketch, has influenced all combat art since his time, and no mod-
ern battlefield artist, including this reviewer, would gainsay his power-
ful effect on the medium.
Now Martha Anne Turner, who has written previously on Thoma-
son for the Marine Corps Gazette, has addressed a wider audience with
this scholarly biography. Here the reader can recapture the romance
and intensity of Thomason's life from his youth in late nineteenth-
century Huntsville, Texas-a town that had changed little since ante-
bellum days and is portrayed here as strangely compelling and eerily
evocative-through his death of pneumonia in San Diego at the age
of fifty-one, literally worn out by the pace of his own existence. In
the intervening chapters Turner describes the early flowering of his
creative interests: Thomason's studies at the Art Students League of
New York City and his subsequent job as reporter for the Houston
Chronicle. Although he joined the marine corps on the day the United

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed May 28, 2015.