NORMAN D. BROWN, Editor
The Texas Experience. Compiled by Archie P. McDonald. (College Sta-
tion, Tex.: Texas A&M University Press for the Texas Committee
for the Humanities, 1986. Pp. xii+ i8o. Foreword, preface, maps,
illustrations, photographs. $19.95.)
The Texas Experience is the outgrowth of a media project observing the
Sesquicentennial. Throughout 1986, the Texas Committee for the Hu-
manities sponsored a series of weekly, one-minute television spots and
newspaper columns covering Texas history and culture. An advisory
committee selected the topics, and "some fifty" (p. ix) scholars wrote, or
at least provided background material for, more than seventy two-page
essays. For this book, historian Archie P. McDonald has compiled,
edited, revised, and, in some instances, expanded these articles to
achieve a consistency of style while retaining a diversity of perspectives.
One purpose of this book is to reach a large popular audience, and
the inclusion of a few eye-catching but frivolous topics, such as "Texas
Rangers versus Bonnie and Clyde," reflects that aim. Most of the pieces,
however, represent serious efforts to explore important social, cultural,
economic, and political topics of Texas history. Unfortunately, the real-
ity of the essays all too frequently results in the encyclopedic recount-
ing of facts, the mechanical listing of historical causes and effects, or
the introduction of provocative themes without further development.
For example, the essay entitled "Demon Rum" makes and then quickly
abandons the claim that "prohibition may have offered a socially ac-
ceptable way to attack male supremacy," since drinking in the nine-
teenth century "was a male privilege" (p. 92).
The best essay, with the most fully developed line of argument, is
Don Graham's "Texas as a Western State." The author explores how
the romantic image of the western cowboy has not only shaped the
popular perception of Texas through movies and best-selling books,
but has also influenced the work of scholars and serious novelists.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed April 23, 2014.