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

Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly

of the study period. Perhaps this approach was necessary to accommo-
date the choking mass of detail, but it does lead to much repetition-
some of it apparently inadvertent-and a lack of broad integration of
all elements into a comprehensive picture of the situation at critical
stages in the company's development. One chapter that does provide
an illuminating panoramic view of strategic issues both within the firm
and in a wide arc of its economic and political environment is "An In-
vestment Strategy for the 196os" (chapter 2). One could wish for a simi-
lar treatment at other points in the volume.
The study was company-sponsored but not company-controlled. Its
principal author, Professor Bennett H. Wall, holds the copyright. Its
tone is generally benevolent, but it does not refrain from criticism of
persons and decisions it regards as deserving of blame. There do not
seem to be many of these. The biggest disappointment of the book to
this reviewer is its repeated waiver of opportunities to offer economic
and political analysis of critical interactions with elements in the com-
pany's arena of operations. There is practically no analysis, for ex-
ample, of the influence on the corporation's development of market-
demand prorationing by the Texas Railroad Commission before 1972
and the Mandatory Oil Import Programs of 1960-1973, nor of the
complex influences bearing on the energy policies of the Nixon and
Ford administrations, nor of the general economics of international oil
markets. What we have instead is a detailed narrative of events and
persons. The author's view of government policy toward oil companies
is the primitive black-hats versus white-hats view so characteristic of oil
companies themselves.
Growth in a Changing Environment nevertheless is an impressive ac-
complishment. It succeeds in conveying a picture of Jersey/Exxon that
reflects the widely held image of the corporation-large and ma-
jestically powerful, but generally responsible and benignly efficient.
And the compendium of documents and testimony included in the
book will probably be a valuable research resource for years to come.
University of Texas at Austin JAMES W. McKIE
Free Enterprise Czty: Houston zn Political and Economzc Perspectzve. By Joe R.
Feagin. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1988.
Pp. xii+322. Preface, figures, maps, tables, introduction, notes, in-
dex. $36.oo, cloth; $12.95, paper.)
Houston became a mecca for unfettered business by the early 198os
because of low taxes, few building restrictions, weak unions, supportive
local government, and stunning economic success. Then came the


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed October 8, 2015.