The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

American project. If a bit more interpretive or conceptual, this near-
perfect book would be one of a handful or two of first-rank books on
the twentieth-century West. Still, this volume proves that Joseph Ste-
vens has launched an extraordinarily promising career as an author of
superb narrative history.
University of New Mexico RICHARD W. ETULAIN
Corralling the Colorado: The First Fifty Years of the Lower Colorado River Au-
thority. By James H. (Jimmy) Banks and John E. Babcock. (Austin:
Eakin Press, 1988. Pp. viii+ 278. Preface, map, illustrations, appen-
dix, bibliography, index. $19-95.)
In Corralling the Colorado the authors James H. "Jimmy" Banks and
John E. Babcock have produced a well-written and documented fifty-
year history of the Lower Colorado River Authority-better known by
the people who live along the river's 6oo miles from Dawson County in
far West Texas to Matagorda Bay on the Gulf of Mexico as the LCRA.
The book tells the dramatic story of the vision, initiative, and desires of
a few "good old country boys" who were able to finally harness the vast
power and resources of this noble river. In doing so they brought
safety from the devastating floods and electricity to an area larger than
many states.
The reader will find fascinating the political intrigue and maneuver-
ing conducted by the most influential people of the mid-193o's depres-
sion years. Those men ranged from FDR to the powerful chairmen of
the House Appropriations Committee and Rivers and Harbors Com-
mittee, James Buchanan and Joseph Mansfield. The same politics sur-
rounding the early beginnings of the LCRA also spawned the career of
our thirty-sixth president, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Readers familiar
with Texas history will certainly understand the influence of such gov-
ernors as "Ma" Ferguson and Mark White, who knowingly or acciden-
tally, changed the LCRA's impact on the state.
A highlight of the book must be the twenty-six pages of photographs
depicting the devastating effects of the early floods, various stages of
dam construction, and photos of LBJ with early LCRA supporters viv-
idly picturing his role in creating the LCRA. Also of interest is the de-
scription of the six general managers and their interface and reactions
to the highly political and often parochial board members. One amus-
ing anecdote tells the story of the delivery of the first check from the
federal government for five million dollars. The amount was spelled
out "Fifty Hundred Thousand Dollars"-the check-writing machine
could not write the word "million." Another is how "Ma" Ferguson
"sold" the Dallas delegation and the big Texas utilities that having

152

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed June 3, 2015.