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

Book Reviews

In sum, this is a useful introduction to Antonio Caso, for those otherwise
unfamiliar with his life and writings.
North Texas State University PETE GUNTER
The Progressive Era. Edited by Lewis L. Gould. (Syracuse, New York:
Syracuse University Press, I974. Pp. x+232. Illustrations, index.
The Progressive Era brings together eight original essays dealing with
the background and intellectual content of progressivism, development of
the major political parties between i900 and 1920, and environmentalism,
urban reform, and "progressive" diplomacy. A concluding essay puts pro-
gressivism in historical perspective. The authors are described on the dust
jacket as "younger historians." While none of them are ready for the Old
Historians Home, each has already published one or more significant mono-
graphs on recent American history.
Editor Lewis L. Gould states their overall evaluation of progressivism
this way: "If one accepts the legitimacy of democratic capitalism in the
United States, the work of the Progressive Era demonstrated the society's
ability to ameliorate itself without revolution" (p. Io). Although most of
the essays acknowledge the charges made against progressivism by historians
such as Gabriel Kolko and James Weinstein, and indeed elaborate on the
contradictory actions of those who called themselves "Progressives," the
collection as a whole reaffirms a positive thesis about progressivism without
working through the New Left antithesis to reach a fresh synthesis on early
twentieth-century American history.
The quality of the essays range from acceptable to excellent. Two of the
freshest are those by James Penick, Jr., on environmentalism and Melvin
G. Holli on urban reform. Penick argues that environmentalism was the
quintessential progressive movement and presents evidence from the cru-
sades for irrigation, scientific conservation, and preservation to support his
contention. Holli deals with the twin themes of social and structural reform
in the cities. In assessing the latter, which in the guise of efficiency became
the dominant pattern of urban "reform," Holli theorizes about the rela-
tionship between governmental costs and the structural reformers' rise to
power. He suggests that unusually high costs had a triggering effect on
reform: "once municipal costs pass a threshold--generally the average
governmental cost for cities in a given population category-then the prob-
ability for structural change and reform movements ... increases immeas-


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 17, 2014.