The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975

Book Reviews

essays characterizing the situations in which Cobb appeared, for example,
in county agricultural high schools, boys' club work, extension, the farm
press, the AAA, and his private business. Some sections are laudatory and
some patronizing. Some minor points are open to contention, but, overall,
this is an effective, meaningful, and interesting work which suggests numer-
ous possibilities for similar studies on state and regional levels.
Texas A&M University HENRY C. DETHLOFF
California and the Dust Bowl Migration. By Walter J. Stein. (Westport,
Connecticut: Greenwood Press, Inc., I973. Pp. xiv+302. Biblio-
graphical essay, index. $12.)
Professor Stein's rich and informative book is a welcome and worthy
addition to the growing shelf of volumes on California and the depression
years. It casts a strong light in many corners of agricultural, labor, and
cultural history and exposes myths about the push and pull of the great
Oklahoma migration. The study not only makes the past live, it also serves
as a backdrop to such present history as Cesar Chavez's union crusade and
the continuing problems of the poor in the fields.
The volume is a record of the debacle which hit the Oklahoma farmer
and his trip across route 66 to become part of California. Stein considers
the problems the Okies faced in their new home and how they affected the
state and its "factories in the field." (Californians called all the migrants
from Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, "Okies.") The resultant
crises involving the state administrations of Governors Frank Merriam and
the more liberal Culbert Olson are well documented. Federal responses to
this new type of migrants-these were American WASPs, not Oriental or
Mexican aliens-and the workings of the Federal Security Administration
camps are explored in detail.
Of special interest is Stein's material on the unsuccessful attempts of the
left and the CIO to organize the Okies. More of them "scabbed" than
joined the union. He sees their despair and their individualism as the base
of this failure. "Unions were not within their ken" (p. 265) says the
scholar. The hysteria around these people is caught, though we would have
wished for the inclusion of part of those rabid Los Angeles Times editorials
and some of the tension that was then prevalent in the city of Los Angeles.
But one must not be anything but enthusiastic in the face of this scholarly
addition to those splendid relevant works of I939-John Steinbeck's Grapes
of Wrath and Carey McWilliam's pioneer Factories in the Field. (Stein
aptly calls McWilliams, Olson's commissioner of immigration and housing,


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed February 9, 2016.