The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Book Reviews .

This is a traditional, descriptive narrative that provides detailed
information regarding the year-by-year operations and the creative
strategies that have made Dillard's the fastest-growing department
store chain in the country. Only brief mention is made of errors in judg-
ment, and labor-management relationships are largely ignored. There
are no broad interpretations or attempts to compare the Dillard's expe-
rience with other family-owned retail firms. Despite such flaws the
book is a valuable contribution to the literature of southern economic
history and an interesting case study of a businessman who took chances
and made them pay off.
Texas Woman's University DOROTHY D. DEMOSS
Social Security: The First Half-Century. Edited by Gerald D. Nash, Noel H.
Pugach, and Richard Tomasson. (Albuquerque: University of New
Mexico Press, 1988. Pp. xiii+344. Foreword, preface, illustrations,
epilogue, bibliography, notes, index. $24.95, cloth; $12.95, paper.)
Of all the New Deal legislation, the Social Security Act of 1935 has
had the most fundamental and lasting impact on American life. Today
"social security" is virtually sacrosanct, and even those conservatives who
for decades bemoaned its advent have either repressed their misgivings
or have joined the chorus who sing its praises. In 1985 the University of
New Mexico's Institute for Public Policy decided to commemorate this
landmark legislation and brought together veteran policymakers who
could reflect upon their handiwork, scholars who could present their
research on its origins and development, and the general public who
could share in the educational experience. This volume grew out of
that conference, and despite the editors' attempt to give it some struc-
ture by including a fifty-year overview of the program, a chronology of
significant events, and a selected bibliography, the book understand-
ably mirrors the broad (and sometimes disconcerting) diversity of pur-
pose, participation, and performance.
One section provides an extended discussion among five pioneers of
social security, topped by the jaunty reminiscences of Wilbur Cohen.
Theirs is a celebration-admittedly well deserved-of how a small
group of individuals, motivated by social consciousness, created a sys-
tem during a time of national crisis "that has lifted more people out of
poverty than all of the antipoverty programs of the federal govern-
ment put together" (p. 32). Whereas these old-timers offer much that is
interesting but little that is new, three historians in another section
present well-researched, detailed, often technical, but less inspiring
analyses of specific aspects of the Social Security Act-Blanche Coll on
public assistance during the formative years, Mark Leff on the financ-


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 27, 2015.