The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004

Book Reviews

theme is the challenge of moving growing dockets with limited judicial re-
sources. Judicial "management" strategies discussed include "assembly line"
guilty pleas (with suspended sentences) in border drug busts, which ended with
mandatory sentencing laws, and early screening to eliminate meritless inmate
civil rights cases.
The book's strengths include thorough documentation, original research, and
insightful analyses of the adjudicative styles of Judges James Allred, Reynaldo
Garza, James De Anda, Carl Bue, John Singleton, and Lynn Hughes. One weak-
ness, other than the unwieldy title and tenuous theme, is minimal attention to
the 199os.
Southern District attorneys, judges, and litigants will benefit from this histori-
cal survey of their federal court-but only if they get past the title. It will also be
valuable to scholars researching school desegregation in Houston and South
Texas.
Austin James Cousar
Mexican American Odyssey: Felix Tijermna, Entrepreneur and Civil Leader, 190o5-1965.
By Thomas H. Kreneck. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press,
2001. Pp. xvii+402. Acknowledgments, illustrations, notes, bibliography, in-
dex. ISBN o-89096-936-1. $39.95, cloth.)
Thomas H. Kreneck, head of Special Collections and Archives at Texas A&M
University-Corpus Christi, chronicled the journey of Felix Tijerina from an ille-
gal immigrant and uneducated laborer to a Houston entrepreneur and civic
leader extraordinaire in his book Mexican Amercan Odyssey. Mirroring the Mexi-
can American experience in the first half of the twentieth century, Tijerina ar-
rived in South Texas during the mass exodus created by the Mexican
Revolution. Forced to adapt to an urban habitat, he adroitly integrated into the
Bayou City's growing Hispanic community. Talented and resourceful, Tijerina,
along with "Mrs. Felix," established a firm economic base for his family. By 1937
he launched the first in a chain of Mexican food restaurants, which not only se-
cured his financial future, but earned him a reputation as "the most recognized
Mexican American business success story in Houston (p. 7).
But Tijerina's "rags-to-riches" saga did not end with his business acumen. Tije-
rina achieved his greatest accomplishments and recognition after World War II.
With the emergence of a small Mexican American middle class, he gradually in-
creased his civic and philanthropic activity within Hispanic institutions. Most im-
portantly, Tijerina won election as LULAC national president for four terms
(1956-1960). During his tenure he emphasized education and growth, estab-
lishing the Little School of the 400, a pilot program to teach basic English vo-
cabulary to Mexican American children, and helping expand the organization
into six more states. His conservative leadership style, however, ultimately led to
a rift between Tijerina and liberal Democrat Henry B. Gonzalez, particularly
concerning the black civil rights movement. He also joined mainstream Anglo
groups such as Rotary International, serving as its only local Hispanic member.
Such associations, Kreneck argues, demonstrated that Mexican and Anglo his-
tory has not always been characterized by "conflict and victimization" (p. 9).

2003

345

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed November 23, 2014.