The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Book Reviews

she talked to residents and former seamen and searched local archives and
newspaper files. Her purpose was both to chronicle U-boat activities and to
describe home-front life on the Gulf Coast.
It is the home-front material that is often most interesting. Sometimes the U-
boat accounts, based largely on lengthy quotations from documents left by com-
manders, are tedious and repetitive. Wiggins is at her best when she paraphrases
such material, as in writing about a pre-war German spy network; about often
funny (though seriously intended) early attempts to prepare Galveston for war;
about construction of a pipeline from Texas to the East Coast to avoid delivering
oil by the vulnerable sea route; about life in German POW camps in Galveston;
and so on. Some fascinating old photographs accompany the text.
The local focus will restrict general reader interest. A few of Wiggins's observa-
tions might antagonize older readers with long memories; for example, she
writes that "The U-boat men did not hate the Americans. They were just doing
their job" (p. 48).
This is a risky remark, especially in view of the tragedies other German job-
doers wreaked elsewhere. Furthermore, it is my own observation that crewmen
aboard at least one U.S. Navy fleet oiler operating in the far reaches of the
Pacific would have hooted at any such remark, whether or not limited to U-boat
men. However, on the positive side, Wiggins deserves compliments for her
significant regional contribution.
The Chow Dapper. By Ken Towery. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1995. Pp. 423. Preface,
epilogue, index. ISBN o-89015-965-3. $22.95.)
In 1955, Ken Towery's reporting on the Texas veterans' land scandals for the
Cuero Daily Record won a Pulitzer Prize. Four decades later, a busload of Texans
have scored Pulitzers, but Towery's fame lingers.
Sen. John Tower's chief of staff, Towery was Richard Nixon's Texas campaign
manager and deputy press secretary for the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign. He
held top posts with the U.S. Information Agency and the Corporation for Public
A reader may expect a lively roundup of political shenanigans and insider
anecdotes; but a reader may expect too much. These leftovers are served without
panache. Towery's ordeal as a POW gets his best literary effort, which brings us
to the book's lousy title.
In 1942, Private Towery became a "chow dipper" after his capture by the
Japanese on the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor. He was shipped to a
prison in Manchuria, where he survived nearly four brutal years. There, each
barrack's underfed POWs chose a "chow dipper"-a man trusted to spoon out
the skimpy rations fairly.
Towery's system may be useful in prisons and summer camps: "I would take
my own ration first, set the canteen cup down beside the bucket, and let every
man measure his own ration against mine as he came through the line. Anyone



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed August 21, 2014.