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

Book Reviews

downturn at mid-decade with plummeting oil prices, unemployment,
real estate disasters, and bank failures. Joe R. Feagin, a sociologist at the
University of Texas at Austin, argues that the crash in Houston was a
classic case of overproduction compounded by the outside investment
money that had poured into real estate. The chamber of commerce re-
acted creatively, however, by establishing the Houston Economic De-
velopment Council. This council, funded in part by city money, recom-
mended greater efforts in education and research, and expansion at
NASA and the Texas Medical Center. The goal was to maintain the
good business climate and to repair Houston's damaged reputation.
Yet, as Feagin speculates, success for Houston will return only after
correcting past faults and illusions. It was a myth that Houston rejected
public funds in building facilities. Laissez-faire in business, moreover,
led to high social costs-air and water pollution, poor streets, traffic
problems, flooding, land subsidence, overcrowded jails, poor parks,
and suppressed minorities.
Historians will find Feagin's thoughts about the 198os stimulating.
Less useful are his brief historical comments, his efforts to delineate a
power-elite, and his review of sociological urban theory. For readers ac-
customed to narrative history Feagin's choppy topical format and his
style of "proclaim what you are going to say, say it, and then say what
you said" will prove tiresome.
Colorado State University DAVID G. MCCOMB
Essays in the History of Liberty: Seaver Institute Lectures at the Huntington
Library. By Michael Les Benedict, Don E. Fehrenbacher, Stanley I.
Kutler, James M. McPherson, John Phillip Reid, and Harry N.
Scheiber. (San Marino, Calif.: The Huntington Library and Art
Gallery, 1988. Pp. viii+ 128. Introduction, notes. $19.95.)
Survivors of the Constitution's bicentennial bashes will welcome Es-
says in the History of Liberty. Each contribution is brief, commendably
well-written, and adequately documented. The most emphatic essay is
John Reid's, as all who know and admire him will have guessed. One
need not agree with Reid's sad and, in this reviewer's opinion, wrong
judgment that the rule of law barely exists today in America (p. 12) or
that we as a society have succumbed to arbitrary power, to share con-
cerns about present directions in legal studies, critical or otherwise, and
to benefit from his reflections on the evolution of the concept of the
rule of law in the colonial and Revolutionary decades. More than Reid,
the other contributors attend in some manner to the configurative role
of federalism on their special concerns. They implicitly confirm Mark

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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 July 26, 2014.