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

Book Reviews

have written about activist Texas women, and their work reveals continuity as
well as change.
Tolleson-Rinehart and Stanley portray Richards as an "authentic liberal" who
is doggedly pragmatic in pursuit of effectiveness. They describe Richards's evolu-
tion as a feminist, but they avoid trendy hyperbole about the superior fitness of
women for public office. They find, in sum, that Ann Richards's impact upon
Texas politics has been "transformational" (pp. 143-144) because of her inclu-
siveness ("everyone is seated at the table"), because of her concern for equity is-
sues, and because her example so shattered gender conventions that Kay Bailey
Hutchinson was able to be elected as the state's first woman in the U.S. Senate.
University of Texas at Austin MEGAN SEAHOLM
From Demagogue to Dixiecrat: Horace Wzlkinson and the Politics of Race. By Glenn
Feldman. (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1995. Pp. xviii+311'.
Preface, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN o-8191-97-82-3.
$32.50.)
Glenn Feldman analyzes the career of Horace Wilkinson, an influential Alaba-
ma lawyer and politician, from the aftermath of World War I into the civil rights
struggles of the 1950s. Wilkinson's political persona assumed a number of differ-
ent forms: the protege of a progressive governor and the crusading prosecutor
of participants in vigilante violence; a leader and lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan
and an organizer of the Southern Democratic revolt against the presidential
nomination of Al Smith; a dispenser of New Deal patronage and defender of
white working-class constituents; an ally of powerful industrial and baking inter-
ests in the Dixiecrat challenge to the presidential campaign of Harry Truman
and in the fight to uphold segregation and black disfranchisement in the South
after World War II. Although Wilkinson briefly occupied an elective judgeship,
he generally operated as a political organizer, and even as a boss, directing cam-
paigns, distributing patronage, offering advice and guidance to elected officials,
shaping political careers, discrediting adversaries, and using his considerable le-
gal skill and influence to advance and obstruct political causes. He was also an
effective orator and the prolific author of vitriolic political broadsides. For all
the shifts in his political allegiances, which Feldman attributes to opportunism,
Wilkinson remained consistent in his commitment to white supremacy.
Feldman has written a readable and sometimes lively narrative, but his efforts
at interpretive analysis falter. He characterizes Wilkinson as a "structural" dema-
gogue, a contrived term for a demagogue who forsakes elective office and ma-
neuvers behind the scenes as a political boss. The author claims that his
exploration of structural demagoguery is unique in the study of southern politics,
but he fails to realize, or acknowledge, that southern demagogues like Tom Wat-
son and Huey Long not only held public office but also acted as bosses. The ac-
tivities of these politicians as well as political bosses throughout the nation have
been the subject of countless studies. Feldman's repeated discussions of historio-
graphic debates over such topics as the meaning of progressivism only reveal the

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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 July 24, 2014.