The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

Book Reviews

sensus. Robin W. Doughty's resonant observations on land as "a physical
and spiritual repository of meaning" (p. 106; see also p. 118), while by
no means true only of Texans and Americans, strengthen the ethnological
artery of this book. Sandra L. Myres and Elizabeth York Enstam criticize
Texas history textbooks, citing imbalances of coverage given to the twen-
tieth century, women, and livelihoods apart from military, politics, and
ranching. Dimensions of Texas history have been neglected, and the Texas
myth, to the extent that it exists as such at all, has become more efficient
than generative. Nicholas Lemann's "Power and Wealth" looks at popular
culture-both living and remembered, both narrated and observed-
and challenges much of what Texans believe and non-Texans allege.
Rural/urban and individual/community are two of Lemann's favored op-
positions. On one point at least, Lemann suggests these oppositions con-
verge for native and naturalized: "Texans have always been a self-selected
breed, down to this day-people who have been willing to forsake a more
secure and communitarian existence for the opportunity and lack of rigid
social structure of the frontier" (p. 161). Like Charles Sealsfield, who
wrote about Texas and visited Louisiana about the same time that
Lemann's ancestors settled in Louisiana, Lemann agrees that the wheel
of Texas is urged on by "strength and force" (p. 163). Concluding essays
by Gilbert M. Cuthbertson, C. W. Smith, T. R. Fehrenbach, and James
F. Veninga speak about American civilization while talking of Texas. Well-
orchestrated and with long phrasing, they probably sing as much about
Texas as an alter ego of America as any sixty pages of Fred Gipson,
Katherine Anne Porter, R. G. Vliet, or Larry McMurtry.
My only reservation about Texas Myths, a small one, is the problem
of methodological particularism. While expatiating on Germans, or blacks,
or women, or Texans, one easily falls prey to the kind of imbalances with
which Myres charges Texas history in general. Some of these provocative
essays left me with the lingering question-(I know it's anathema)-are
Texans really so different from Okies? The soundings of legend, myth,
and archetype are one way to look at people. And the deeper one goes,
the more the people look alike. That sense of realism pervades the essays
by Lemann, Cuthbertson, Smith, and Fehrenbach.
Schreiner College GLEN E. LICH
Thinking Back.: The Perils of Writing History. By C. Vann Woodward.
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986. Pp.
x + 146. Acknowledgments, prologue, selective list of critical works,
index. $12.95.)


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 24, 2016.

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