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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

tificial. But it turns out that Eisenhour's plan is as good as any. After all,
it is the selections that really matter-and they are very well chosen.
Sweet wrote humorously, but realistically, about the Texas that he
saw, and his picture of the state in the last two decades of the nineteenth
century is as clear and unsentimental as that of any Texas writer of the
period. His descriptions of San Antonio in the days when the Alamo
was a warehouse and the pestiferous irrigation ditches still ran the
length of the city are devastatingly accurate. Below is a passage on the
ditches:
As far as I can see they are not much use except for strangers to fall into at
night, and to create malarial and typhoid fevers; also to throw dead cats and
other things people don't care to have about the house, into, after dark when
the police are busy taking their rest. To say those ditches are filthy is to use lan-
guage as feeble as [Isaac] Watt's hymns for infant minds. (p. 46)
The thing about Sweet's writings that strikes the reader most force-
fully is how genuinely funny he was. Many of the humorists of the
nineteenth century have not worn well and are badly dated today. But
Sweet is in a class with Mark Twain, who is still as funny in the 198os as
he was in the 188os.
North Texas State University JAMES W. LEE
The WPA Guide to Texas. By the Writers of the Writers' Program of the
Works Projects Administration in the State of Texas. (Austin: Texas
Monthly Press, 1986. Pp. xxxiii+718. Introduction, foreword,
preface, illustrations, maps, photographs, appendices, index.
$24.95, cloth; $14.95, paper.)
At this point in American history when life has become so homoge-
nized, the appearance of various volumes in the American Guide Series
is particularly welcome. Over the past several years various presses have
reprinted the original volumes on New York City, Wyoming, Kansas,
Oklahoma, and Nebraska. Now the Texas Monthly Press offers the
1940 WPA Guide to Texas, with a lively yet thoughtful new introduction
by Don Graham of the University of Texas at Austin. The reappearance
of this guide is a fitting and happy way to mark the sesquicentennial of
the Lone Star State.
Written in an era before tourism replaced travel, the Texas guide in-
vites the reader and the traveler to linger and explore. Among the 718
pages the reader will find detailed profiles of fifteen Texas cities, ninety-
nine photographs depicting Texas life and locale, and thirty-three
tours throughout the state with accompanying maps. And as if that
were not enough, there are extensive appendices with additional sec-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed February 1, 2015.