The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Reviews

The great strength of the book, its access to the Kempner family through
papers and interviews, also accounts for its primary weakness. The author has
been able to identify with the Kempner family and has come to share their par-
ticular perspective on the Galveston experience. Not having access to the
papers of other families, as he notes, his account of the rivalries in politics and
business is from the Kempner perspective. Future studies of Galveston that
rely on this book, particularly when dealing with the twentieth century, must
take that limitation into account. The family relationships, so important in
understanding the activities of the family, might have been a bit clearer for the
reader unfamiliar with the Kempners had a genealogical chart of the family
been included. Finally, the decision made to leave the story of the banking and
insurance interests out of the book was unfortunate. Central to the develop-
ment and maintenance of the great Galveston fortunes was the access to control
of capital through the mix of insurance companies, incorporated banks, and
unincorporated banks that the families created. Without a careful description
and analysis of the way the Kempners used the complex of financial entities
they created, their story is not complete.
Despite these reservations, this careful, well-written study is a noteworthy ad-
dition to the historiography of Galveston. Moreover, it is an important addition
to the literature dealing with Texas businessmen as it is the first major study of
a post-Civil War Galveston entrepreneurial family.
Moody Mansion and Museum PATRICK H. BUTLER III
Sands and Quicksands from the Red River-and North. By William N. Stokes,
Jr. (Waco: Texian Press, 1990. Pp. x+151. Acknowledgments, preface.
$17.95.)
Attorney William N. Stokes, Jr., author of a biography of Sterling Evans and
a history of the Plains Cooperative Oil Mill, has written a book best described as
an assortment of pleasant anecdotes spanning his lifetime. Born before World
War I, Stokes grew up in Vernon, Texas, graduated from Baylor University
and Yale Law School, and served a distinguished career in Houston as counsel
for the Federal Land Bank and as president of the Bank for Cooperatives and
the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank. The author believes, however, that his
life "has not been sufficiently exciting or productive to make a viable autobiog-
raphy" (p. v). Instead Stokes has compiled in chronological order ninety-one,
mostly firsthand anecdotes, for which the selection criteria appear to have been
poignancy and humor, rather than political, economic, social, or historical sig-
nificance. Norman Rockewell illustrations would not have been out of place in
this volume, which includes tales about running away from home, prize fights
at the county fair, confidence men, courtships, college pranks, hunts, and
speechmaking. Famous names occasionally appear, such as Llerena Friend, the
author's high school civics teacher, and Franklin Roosevelt, whom the author
met in 1932.
Many of the stories rise to the level of folklore-indeed one chapter was pre-
viously published by the Texas Folklore Society-but given the emphasis on

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed September 23, 2014.