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

Book Reviews

the difficulties that they encountered in pacifying the Big Bend region-and in
the resulting atrocities.
Justice is aware of the controversial nature of some of his key sources, and he
strives to inform the reader of his concerns, while at the same time permitting
the sources to tell their side of this complex story.
Texas State Historical Association RON TYLER
The French in Texas: History, Migration, Culture. Edited by Francois Lagarde.
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003. Pp. xiii+33o. Illustrations, tables,
epilogue, select bibliography, acknowledgments, notes. ISBN 0-292-74734-
9. $55.00, cloth. ISBN 0-292-70528-x. $24.95, paper.)
Since 1945 the uneven nature of Franco-American relations has tended to
obscure the close historical and ideological ties between the two nations.
Indeed, certain states, including Texas, have inextricable ties to France. The
essays collected and edited by Francois Lagarde in The French in Texas aim to
bring this bond into sharper focus.
France's involvement with Texas stretches for more than three hundred years.
However, this link remains practically invisible to most Texans. Even recognized
figures like La Salle and Laffite owe their reputations to fictionalized accounts
that do little to further an understanding of Texas history.
Plagued by incompetent leadership and a hostile physical environment, any
French success in establishing their presence in Texas came about due to luck
and the determination of common settlers. Bringing this factor to the fore-
front is the work's greatest contribution. French immigrants, like all other
European settlers, brought with them traditional rivalries that caused tension,
but they also harbored individual ambitions to build a better life in a land
presented to them as a "Garden of Eden." Harsh realities made a mockery of
this image and the French never arrived in large numbers, but they never
stopped coming.
"Americanization" of French immigrants and the large number who returned
home resulted in the anonymity associated with their culture in Texas. In order
to illustrate its continued existence, this work includes the Francophone com-
munities such as the "Cajuns" who came to work in the oil industry around the
"Golden Triangle." Even here the ongoing connection has more to do with
music and food than language. Still, Franco-Texans had much to do with estab-
lishing both the medical and educational systems of Texas and have played a sig-
nificant role in the state's rich Catholic history.
This work contains numerous fascinating tidbits of Texana. The extensive
French involvement with the Alamo, from the battle itself to the renovations of
the building and the production of the first movie about the event in 1911, pro-
vides an intriguing example (topped off by reference to Davy Crockett's French
forefather). It also displays how the French view Texas as a region apart from the
rest of the United States. Embracing stereotypes, the French feel both inspired
by and disdainful of the Lone Star State. Frontier Texas teems with romantic

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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 September 20, 2014.