The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Book Reviews

landed him in the federal corrections facility at El Reno, Oklahoma, in .1937-
Over the next three and one-half decades the legendary Duke of Duval extend-
ed his domination over the South Texas fiefdom inherited from his father
Archer, helped elect a U.S. senator destined for the presidency, and battled all
legal and political challenges to a standstill. Parr's reign came to an end only
with a 1974 conviction on eight counts of federal income tax evasion. Rather
than return to prison, the seventy-four-year-old El Gran Patron took his own life
under a mesquite tree on his Los Hormones Ranch on April Fool's Day, 1975-
John Clark's behind-the-scenes insider's account of the grand jury investiga-
tion into Duval County corruption and Parr's subsequent conviction is an ab-
sorbing and well-written story. Quoting effectively from transcripts of the judicial
proceedings, the author chronicles every labored step in the effort from his per-
spective as first assistant U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas in the ear-
ly 197os. Grand jurors and government prosecutors, racing to finish their work
before statutes of limitations expired, combatted reluctant, forgetful, and per-
jurous witnesses. Death threats complicated the search for truth. Crucial finan-
cial records were either illegible, inexplicably misplaced, or reported stolen.
Tactics successfully employed for decades to frustrate prior legal inquiries, how-
ever, failed on this occasion. That investigators were able to unravel the complex
methods used by Parr to bleed every public entity within his domain stands as a
tribute to their dogged determination.
While Clark does a commendable job relating events in which he was a partici-
pant, his examination of the infamous 1948 nominating primary which sent
Lyndon Johnson to the U.S. Senate suffers from the absence of a historian's
evenhandedness and overreliance on the correspondence files of Dan Moody, a
self-proclaimed Johnson enemy of long standing. These shortcomings, while dis-
appointing, are peripheral to the main topic of the study which provides new in-
formation and an important additional perspective to the Parr story.
Austin Community College L. PATRICK HUGHES
Guns or Butter: The Presidency of Lyndon Johnson. By Irving Bernstein. (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1996. Pp. viii+6o6. Preface, photographs, notes, in-
dex. ISBN 0-19506312-0. $35.00, cloth.)
Irving Bernstein's accomplishments as a historian are formidable, and he has
obviously invested an enormous amount of work in researching and writing this
6oo-page tome on the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Nonetheless, the book is a
disappointment. Bernstein opens his study with the assertion that Johnson's crit-
ics have treated him unfairly by blaming him for the war in Vietnam without rec-
ognizing his spectacular successes on the domestic front. To redress this
imbalance, Bernstein devotes most of his attention to explaining the passage
and the implementation of such important Great Society reforms as the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Medicare and Medicaid, fed-
eral aid to education at all levels, and the War on Poverty. Unfortunately, much
of this discussion consists of a formulaic recitation of who did what, combined

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed December 18, 2014.