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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

faithful who anxiously await their monthly copy of Writer's Digest. No-
where in Carter's credentials is there any mention of "historian."
This probably is not very significant. In presenting the story of Dodge
City in its heyday as a cowtown, Carter skirts all the traps which would
ensnare the professional historian. He has eliminated distracting footnotes
which would only confuse the reader. The brief bibliography assiduously
avoids obscure sources. Perhaps best of all, he writes in that style aspired
to by all those who attend writers' conferences and have personalized sta-
tionary emblazoned with the title "Author." Short sentences and even
shorter words abound. There is just the right mix of amusing anecdotes (not
necessarily true) and witty asides. Both have been carefully selected to coax
a reluctant reader on to the next paragraph or chapter. By all the standards
of the "professional writer," this should be a very good book.
The standards of the professional historian are quite different. Carter in
his Dodge City book has done nothing that has not already been done by
a number of others, among them some of the all-time greats of western
writing. The four page bibliography includes at least half a dozen other
Dodge City monographs. Replowing old ground is not necessarily a bad
thing if something new or beautiful grows. Carter either lacks the insight
or simply does not have the inclination to bring new meaning to the story
of Dodge City. Neither does he create a thing of beauty. The theory that by
avoiding all the weaknesses of bad writing the product will necessarily be
good writing is, I am afraid, a false one. Good writing is an art, but to the
"professional writer" it is a craft. The result is that while the best of the
"professional writers" seldom fail to produce technically sound pieces of
writing, that writing frequently has all the appeal of Indian bead work in
Hong Kong.
Eastern Montana College ROBERT T. SMITH
An Ethnohistorical Survey of Texas Indians. By Lydia L. M. Skeels. Report
No. 22. (Austin: Texas Historical Survey Committee, 1972. Pp. xvi+
82. Maps, tables. $2.50.)
Texas researchers in both anthropology and history have long recognized
the need for a broad, ethnohistorical survey of Texas Indians. At the same
time, as Professor Frank Hole points out in his introduction to this volume,
we need to begin "establishing archeologically oriented historical research
and historically oriented archeology" (p. iv). Unfortunately, An Ethnohis-
torical Survey of Texas Indians does not meet these needs.
Skeels's concept is excellent, but her execution is faulty. She has set out


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed October 7, 2015.