The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Book Reviews

vertising and automobile sales, but also in the very designs and technological in-
novations introduced by the new industry.
The strength of this book lies in Scharff's acute ability to conjure up the feel
of the times. Her eye for the telling or funny quotation or anecdote makes this
an easy and enjoyable book to read. For example, the reader eavesdrops on
Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas as they watch an American woman driver
back an ambulance up a French street. Toklas tells Stein that they too should
volunteer for ambulance duty, despite the fact that neither woman could drive a
car. "You will drive the car," says Toklas, "and I shall do the rest" (p. 96). In an-
other scene, we are privy to the fictitious Lady Beeton's "smoldering fire" for fast
driving with her hunchbacked French chauffeur, a "man of uncertain birth" (p.
21). Although Scharff's efforts to convey a sense of the period sometimes lead to
unfootnoted passages or scenes that stray a bit too far from the actual evidence,
the attractions of her writing style far outweigh any professional quibbles.
Taking the Wheel is much more than a good read. America's car culture has
been studied almost exclusively from the perspective of the changes the automo-
bile brought to the American consumer. Women were one group that found a
new freedom through the car and experienced a heightened sense of control
behind the wheel, "muddying the distinction between public and private forev-
er" (p. 170). But, as Scharff points out, the motor age was shaped as much by ex-
isting cultural definitions and expectations, including gender stereotypes, as by
technological innovation. This book is a valuable contribution to the history of
women, as well as to the study of American culture and technology at the turn of
the century.
Louisiana State University SARA HUNTER GRAHAM
From Texas to the East: A Strategic History of Texas Eastern Corporation. By Christo-
pherJ. Castaneda and Joseph A. Pratt. (College Station: Texas A&M Univer-
sity Press, 1993. Pp. xv+296. List of illustrations, list of maps, list of tables
and charts, preface, introduction, epilogue, notes, index. ISBN 9-33073-
551-X. $35.00.)
The history of Texas in the twentieth century has been closely bound up with
oil, and historians have documented many aspects of that relationship. But hard-
ly less significant than oil after 1945 was the utilization of natural gas, and the
story of that important natural resource still needs to be told. Happily, Christo-
pher J. Castaneda and Joseph A. Pratt have written a book that does much to fill
the present void in the subject. If their history of Texas Eastern Corporation is
not a comprehensive account of the industry, the progress of one important
company sheds much light on the broader aspects of the subject.
Texas Eastern got its start just after World War II. In the midst of that conflict
the federal government had built the Big Inch and Little Inch pipelines to deliv-
er petroleum from the Texas oil fields to Eastern cities, to alleviate oil shortages
caused by German submarine warfare against tankers in the Atlantic. With fi-
nancing from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Big Inch stretched

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed August 19, 2014.