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

278 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
passenger-service efforts from a refreshing and unbiased perspective.
The photographs that accompany the text are adequate, but they could
easily have been better and more numerous, and the captions often
more informative.
Altogether, The Southern Pacific merits the approval of the profes-
sional historian and belongs in the library of every serious rail fan.
But Also Good Business: Texas Commerce Banks and the Financing of Hous-
ton and Texas, 1886-1986. By Walter L. Buenger and Joseph A.
Pratt. (College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M University Press, 1986.
Pp. xvi+450. Preface, introduction, maps, tables, illustrations,
graphs, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. $29.50.)
On entering the Union in 1845, Texans wrote a constitution that
Jacksonian Democrats considered a model for its prohibition of state
banks. Until this century, Texans' views on banks were better character-
ized by a Populist hostility than by a wheeler-dealer acceptance of their
role in economic development. Yet today Houston epitomizes the eco-
nomic miracle of the Sunbelt and plays a role in both national and
international finance. But Also Good Business traces this history by focus-
ing on the gradual evolution of the holding company known since 1971
as Texas Commerce Bancshares, the twenty-first largest bank in the
The book was initiated by Ben Love, the CEO of Texas Commerce, to
commemorate the company's centennial; and it was executed with the
cooperation and support of Texas Commerce. The authors chosen to
write the book are a historian of Texas and the South and a business
historian, respectively. The combination was fortuitous. The scholar-
ship is professional, and the book goes beyond a simple institutional
history, successfully relating the emergence of Texas Commerce to re-
gional economic development, increasingly sophisticated modes of fi-
nancing cotton and oil production, and institutional changes in the
banking business. The authors' analysis of the company's responses to
changing state and national regulations is particularly well done and
could serve as a case study for business history generally.
There is little social criticism of bankers in the book. The authors'
story is one of progressive evolution and creative entrepreneurship.
They tend to emphasize the benefits of scale for the economic develop-
ment of the region. Readers are assured that the title does not mean
that what was good for Texas Commerce was good for the region, but
"what was good for the region ultimately contributed to the growth and
profits of its banks" (p. 336).

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 17, 2014.