Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The Thorny Rose of Texas. By Mike Shropshire and Frank Schaefer. (New York:
Carol Publishing Group, 1994. Pp. viii+271. Prologue, epilogue, appendix,
index. ISBN 1-55972-232-0. $19.95.)
Claytie and the Lady. By Sue Tolleson-Rinehart and Jeanie R. Stanley. (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1994. Pp. viii+18o. Acknowledgments, notes, ref-
erences, indices. ISBN 0-292-77065-0. $25.00.)
When the subject is women of the American South, the first image conjured
by the popular imagination is usually the "Southern belle." The second is likely
to be the "Texas woman." After all, Texas women have been making national
headlines for some time: Frances Farenthold's inspiring political career and
1974 gubernatorial race; Sarah Weddington and Roe vs. Wade in 1973; the late
Barbara Jordan's constitutional acumen during the Watergate hearings. The two
books under review here add to the growing literature on exceptional Texas
women. Both focus on the incomparable Ann Richards.
Mike Shropshire and Frank Schaefer have written an adoring biography of
Richards complete with appendices that include three of her best-known speech-
es. Thorny Rose covers much of the same ground covered by Richards in her auto-
biography Straight from the Heart: My Life an Polztics and Other Places (1989), but,
writing five years later, Shropshire and Schaefer were able to include three chap-
ters on the 1990o gubernatorial race and on Richards's governorship. Shropshire
and Schaefer have not written a particularly critical biography; they are stronger
on anecdote than analysis. They strive for candor about, for example, Richards's
alcoholism or an occasional episode of bad temper, but for Shropshire and
Schaefer there are not many thorns on this rose.
The most useful aspect of this work is the context it provides for the various
stages of Richards's life and career: Waco during the Depression, Baylor in the
195os; Democrats in Dallas in the 1960s; the political culture of the Austin
cognoscenti. Shropshire and Schaefer also risk a few psychobiographical conclu-
sions, such as the role of Iona Willis, Ann's mother, in preparing her for every
possible opportunity. Theirs is a good narrative, an enjoyable read, and a useful
source of information about one of the state's (and the nation's) leading ladies.
Claytze and the Lady, by political scientists Sue Tolleson-Rinehart and Jeanie R.
Stanley, is a very different kind of book. Tolleson-Rinehart and Stanley analyze
the pyrotechnic 199o gubernatorial campaign, and the linchpin of their analysis
is gender. Drawing upon impressionistic and statistical evidence, the authors dis-
cover a complex and qualified gender gap. They believe that the 1990 race was a
"classic struggle over visions of government and society, over 'New' versus 'Old'
Texas" (p. 132). Thus, the authors explain, that Richards was the first woman
governor elected in her own right and that she was elected with a promise of a
New Texas is unique in American political history. Tolleson-Rinehart and Stan-
ley highlight this conclusion with comparisons to political women of earlier
decades, but their historical analysis is flawed. A host of scholars-Elizabeth
Hayes Turner, Judith McArthur, Elizabeth Enstam, Virginia Bernhard, Ruthe
Winegarten, Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, and Marta Cotera, to name only a few-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed February 6, 2016.