Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Texas Through Time: Evolving Interpretations. By Walter L. Buenger and Robert A.
Calvert (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1991. Pp. xxxv+371. Acknowl-
edgments, introduction, contributors, index. $35.00, cloth; $15.95, paper.)
With research underwritten by the Texas Committee for the Humanities,
Buenger, Calvert, and ten distinguished colleagues have presented a set of essays
intended to nudge Texas history in new directions. The editors call for an "in-
clusionary history" (p. xiv), rather than one like that of the past, which has all
too often focused on male Anglo-Saxon elites. They also insist on the need, in all
subsequent cyclical revisions, for "intellectual toughness" (p. xiv) and honesty in-
stead of clinging to myths in writing about the Texas past.
In four topical essays, on twentieth-century culture, Mexicans, African Ameri-
cans, and women, followed by six more or less chronologically organized ones,
and two final ones on urban history and economic history, these twelve Texas
historians discuss the history of Texas that has been written and make some sug-
gestions about what needs to be done, and, of course, what needs to be redone.
Like all such efforts as this, the essays are uneven in quality and the authors dif-
fer in style and approach. Readers will find things to criticize, but everyone will
likely agree that each essay is competently done.
All are mixtures, to some extent, but some are mostly historiographical while
others are essentially bibliographical in approach. Perhaps the main reason they
are not all the former is that it is not possible to write historiographical essays
when only one interpretation exists. Ronald Davis, Alwyn Barr, Fane Downs,
Paul Lack, Larry Hill, Char Miller, and Walter Buenger all try to develop themes
in their articles as indicated by their titles or subtitles. For instance, Hill wrote
about 'Texas Progressivism: A Search for Definition," and Miller titled his work
on recent Texas "Sunbelt Texas." Arnoldo De Leon, Donald Chipman, Ran-
dolph Campbell, Robert Calvert, and Kenneth Hendrickson, Jr., do not attempt
to fit their contributions into a single theme. Of all the writers, Hendrickson is
the only one who is explicit about the quality of the works he discusses. The rest
are much more reserved, and their opinions about quality are either implicit or,
at least, very much toned down. Any specialist who reads the essay on his field
will probably have a few minor complaints about omissions, but the key word is
minor. All of the writers have included both what has been published and what
has been written in theses and dissertations. Specialists may also quibble about
the recommendations of these historians about what needs to be worked on
now. As could be expected, some of the authors were very imaginative in point-
ing to research and writing that is needed, while others mainly survey what has
been done. All of them do make some effort to point out some new directions
that historians need to take.
Although the editors and authors would like it to be both, this is not likely to
be a popular or widely read book, since it is done primarily for historians and
scholars. If those it is aimed at read it, and respond to the calls of the editors and
authors for new directions in writing Texas history, then the book will need to
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 January 31, 2015.