The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

Book Reviews

party battles were more complex than this portrayal of parties seeking
to outdo each other as avowed protectors of slavery. Southerners di-
vided over many issues unrelated to slavery, including constitutional
reform, taxation, the tariff, public education, and state-aid proposals;
and these issues were not always ephemeral or secondary as Cooper
In sum, this well-organized, well-written book brings little new in-
formation to the student of antebellum southern history and pro-
pounds an overdrawn thesis.
North Texas State University JACK B. SCROGG
The Bold and Magnificent Dream: America's Founding Years, 1492-
1815. By Bruce and William B. Catton. (Garden City, New York:
Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1978. Pp. 495. Maps, bibliographi-
cal notes, index. $12.50.)
Characteristically publishers, not reviewers, worry about a book's
audience. But questions of quality and utility are ultimately reduci-
able to "useful for whom?" For William B. and Bruce Catton's The
Bold and Magnificent Dream, there is no obvious answer. As the au-
thors admit, this is not a student text. Neither its organization nor its
emphases make the book suitable for classroom use or serialized assign-
ment. For a volume this lengthy, the index is too abbreviated to make
the work an effective reference tool. The inclusion of material is highly
selective and important topics are broken up into installments. Peri-
odic factual errors do not instill confidence.
If this book is not particularly suitable for the consumers of texts,
neither does it break new ground for professionals. Again the authors
tell us what it is not: a research monograph. The work is based en-
tirely upon secondary sources. But it is certainly no synthesis. While
the bibliography indicates that the authors examined some of the most
recent scholarship in colonial and early national history, broad gaps
yawn. Absent, for example, are most of the colonial demographies and
all of the New England town studies. Most newer material is intro-
duced by refraction through some major synthesis. Richard Hof-
stadter's America at 1750 plainly carried weight with the Cattons.
The authors call this book an interpretation. That it is, but hardly
one that practicing historians will find unique. It is colored in shades
of William Hickling Prescott, Hubert Howe Bancroft, and Frederick


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed March 28, 2015.