sound of ragtime has taken its place beside Bach, Schumann, and Chopin.
The authors make such comparisons, in keeping with the basically pianistic
form of ragtime. Uncontent to let ragtime stand on its own considerable
merits as popular music, they insist that it be considered an art form. The
musicological analysis posits that Lamb's "American Beauty" rag contains
"highly suggestive sexual images," such as the "sixteenth-note progressions
in contrary motion to the right hand (coitus) . . ." (p. 66). That the con-
trary motion of sixteenth notes might excite the authors, I cannot deny. But
neither the image on the page nor in my ear produces any aphrodisia. Such
is the fate of a middle-aged historian!
Besides this penetrating musical analysis, the authors place the origins of
ragtime in their social setting, providing much interesting information. In
doing so, they bemoan constantly the outcast role of the black musician at
the turn of the century. Advertisements and titles of minstrel show music
exploited racism shamelessly. But these facts are not allowed to speak for
themselves. The authors repeatedly condemn the racism of the period, as if
the repetition proved their sympathies and understanding, thereby sharpen-
ing their insight into the music.
University of Maryland WALTER RUNDELL, JR.
Land of the Underground Rain: Irrigation on the Texas High Plains, 191o-
970o. By Donald E. Green. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973.
Pp. xvii+295. Footnotes, illustrations, bibliography, index. $9.50.)
Donald E. Green has written an informative and very detailed account of
irrigation on the Texas High Plains. He briefly discusses nineteenth-century
Great Plains irrigation, comments on the early knowledge of water resources
on the southern High Plains, and traces the development of irrigation tech-
nology. The main emphasis of the study is on the slow expansion of irriga-
tion after the first successful irrigation unit by D. L. McDonald near Here-
ford, Texas, in 191o.
The initial interest in irrigation was by speculators who desired to increase
the value of their land, but irrigation did not expand during the decade
after 91 o because of a number of factors, including the lack of support by
farmers. The second phase, that of expansion, resulted from the drought and
the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and new pump irrigation technology. This phasc
continued into the 195os and was aided by World War II and its aftermath
and by the Korean War. Since the late 195os, the High Plains farmers have
found that their inexhaustible resource has been mined too heavily and that
new water resources must be found.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed April 24, 2014.