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

Book Reviews

Southerners and Other Americans. By Grady McWhiney. (New York: Ba-
sic Books, Publishers; 1973. Pp. xi+206. Index. $7.95.)
Southerners and Other Americans is a collection of twelve essays, half of
which have been published previously, by Professor Grady McWhiney, the
biographer of General Braxton Bragg.
The essays cover a diverse range of subjects, though most center around
the Civil War or delve into its background or aftermath. The basic theme
running through the collection is McWhiney's vigorous emphasis upon the
Americanism of southerners, whether black or white. The men and boys on
both sides who fought the Civil War wore different uniforms, but culturally
they differed very little. Americans generally, McWhiney states, were at
heart entrepreneurs; both above and below the Mason-Dixon, to borrow a
phrase from Carl N. Degler, there was "nobody here but us capitalists." In
the tradition of Frank L. Owsley, McWhiney feels the South was as demo-
cratic and upwardly mobile for whites as were other sections. Indeed, a
basic cause of the Civil War was the fact that nonslaveholding farmers iden-
tified their own economic aspirations with slavery. "Cotton was a great
democratizing influence before I86o," McWhiney states (p. 131), and
southern farmers looked ahead to joining the slaveowning fraternity and
climbing to wealth on bales of cotton and the backs of slaves.
Generally the essays are consciously debunking in tone. McWhiney asserts
that the Whigs cannot be accurately described as the "silk stocking" party
in the South, that the Civil War's most successful generals were often poor
tacticians, and that much of the "new" black history is historically inaccu-
rate. He is at his best in the essays that deal with the Civil War period,
writing with grace, knowledge, and insight about a variety of political and
military subjects. He even examines the question as to whether a West Point
educational background resulted in a common attitude toward sex, women,
and marriage, which, not surprisingly, it did not.
Although this reviewer cannot accept some of McWhiney's assumptions,
he found Southerners and Other Americans an interesting and provoca-
tive work.
University of Georgia N. V. BARTLEY
The American West: An Interpretive History. By Robert V. Hine. (Bos-
ton: Little, Brown and Company, 1973. Pp. x+371. Illustrations,
notes, bibliography, index. $12.50.)
Despite the exciting nature of the western experience, most western his-
tory texts are drier than the land west of the i ooth meridian. Robert Hine


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 26, 2015.