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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

nearly equaling the combined gross income from all the state's leading indus-
tries-grain and lumber mills.
The implications of this careful work are enormous. "No organization in
nineteenth-century Texas could match the army in diversity and scope of eco-
nomic activity," Smith concludes (p. 178). The impact was particularly notewor-
thy in the sparsely settled areas west of the 97th meridian. Military spending
was essential to the development of the state's commercial freighting industry
and often meant the difference between success and failure for small subsis-
tence farmers. Army paydays pumped a steady stream of cash into the Texas
economy. Further, the army's maps, roads, river and harbor improvements, and
protection for mail and stage routes served as an important multiplier for the
state's economy. Army personnel, Texas politicians, businessmen, and agricul-
turalists generally recognized the "symbiotic relationship" (p. 4) that existed
between the army's largest theater of war and the state economy, establishing
what amounted to "a military-commercial cooperative" (p. 174). In sum, Smith
has provided a compelling reason for all Texas and western historians-military
and otherwise-to account for the varied and important roles played by the
nineteenth-century United States Army.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi ROBERT WOOSTER
Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected. By Kenneth B. Ragsdale. (College
Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998. Pp. xiii+281. Illustrations,
preface, prelude, epilogue, notes, index. ISBN o-89o96-811 -X. $24.95,
Kenneth Ragsdale first visited Texas's Big Bend country in 1928; three
decades later, he returned and embarked on a lifelong pursuit to study and
write about the region's history and development. During those years, Ragsdale
met and befriended or was told about many of the region's most famous, influ-
ential, and infamous individuals and events: Kathryn Casner, Mary Coe Daniels,
Lucia Madrid, Rozell Pulliam, Jim Gillespie, the Coffman brothers, the Baiza
family, Hallie Stillwell, W. D. Smithers, smuggling, murder, treasure hunting,
and the filming of Giant. These are the people and incidents that Ragsdale
writes about in Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected.
Ragsdale draws on his interviews and personal correspondence with these peo-
ple to write portraits of each of these individuals and/or events in an effort, first,
to honor and pay homage to the folks who, over thirty-plus years, shaped his
opinion of the Big Bend and its history while, in his judgment, being a part of
that history. Second, Ragsdale illustrates how violence and compassion, villainy
and decency, coexisted in the Big Bend area during the first half of the twenti-
eth century-and how they have, to varying degrees, become the basis for the
myths and legends that characterize the region today. Lastly, Ragsdale shows
how these folks and events typified the Big Bend as a region in transition, for by
1955, the frontier lifestyle now considered characteristic of Texas's Big Bend
country during the early 1900os-remoteness, ranching, mining, lawlessness, and



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 3, 2016.

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