The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Book Reviews

help but think what a grand testament it is to his abilities. And, how very unfor-
tunate his untimely death was.
Hillsdale College BradleyJ. Birzer
Texas Iconoclast: Maury Maverick, Jr. Edited by Allan O. Kownslar. (Fort Worth:
Texas Christian University Press. Pp. 295. Preface, conclusion, notes. ISBN
0-87565-172-0. $16.96, paper.)
Like fresh horseradish or incendiary habafiero peppers, Maury Maverick Jr. is
best savored in small portions every so often. His Sunday columns in the San
Antonio Express-News are mouth-watering fare for lazy weekend repasts. Daily
exposure, however, could well lead to dangerously elevated blood-pressure read-
ings. Texas Iconoclast, a compilation of Maverick's columns edited by Allan
Kownslar, lies somewhere in between. Few readers will find it a classic page-turner
impossible to put down. Nonetheless, most will find it informative, thought-pro-
voking, and at times uproariously amusing. Above all else, it is opiniated.
Kownslar groups selected Maverick columns into five chapters: Iconoclastic
Relatives, Red Scares and Legislative Memories, Basic Civil Liberties, War and
Peace, Heroines and Heroes. A precis introduces each topic, providing essential
background and context. While each has its own unique attraction, Texas histo-
rians will unquestionably find the first two sections the most rewarding.
It would be tempting to label the author a one-of-a-kind character but for a
family tree replete with colorful ancestors. The product of a pioneer family
stretching back in Texas over a century and a half, Maverick shares anecdotal
material on three generations in addition to stepfather Walter Prescott Webb.
The columns on father Maury Senior and mother Terrell reflect both love and
respect. The elder Maverick, legendary Depression-era congressman and
reformist mayor of San Antonio, passed on an unwavering commitment to civil
liberties and liberal political ideals. Terrell's calming influence produced off-
spring no less firm in their beliefs but with less of the curmudgeonly abrasive-
ness of their father.
Maury Maverick's services in the Texas House of Representatives in the 1950s
are a profile of courage. It was a reactionary body in a reactionary time that most
Texans would like to forget. It is important that they remember. As Maverick
notes, "As I've written and said, in the final analysis the worst thing about it
wasn't the bad guys, but the good guys. Everybody was terrified. . . . It was the
nice people that either capitulated to it or kept quiet" (pp. 59-60). Maverick did
neither. He voted against proposals for book censorship, creation of a state Un-
American Activities Committee, outlawing the Communist Party, and making
membership therein a capital offense punishable by death. He hid out in a
restroom with other moderates hoping to deny a quorum to a House intent on
investigating economist Clarence Ayres's patriotism. In 1957 the representative
successfully filibustered a bill demanding loyalty checks of college and university
professors across Texas. Throughout these reminiscences the author recounts
his fear rather than his grit. It is others whose character and bravery he recalls.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed April 19, 2014.