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

Book Reviews

as Texas writ large, and Robert Athearn dealt only with the northern plains
and pulled in the northern Rockies as well. McKee gives more attention
than Webb did to the geological formation of the plains, and he correctly
identifies the eastern border of the plains as a continually shifting line
responsive to the vagaries of the climatic cycles. "Optimism guided by
greed" (p. 227) has been the chief motivating force in plains history, but
McKee warns that this force has stretched the ecological tolerance of the
plains to its limit or beyond. If this area is to be the vital supply base of
food and energy for the critical decades that lie ahead, man must meet the
challenges of water scarcity, soil erosion, and strip mining.
This book contains some shocking factual errors, but overall it is a stim-
ulating study of a region that is both a fascinating part of the heritage and
soul of America and a potentially vital resource for the future of Man.
McKee beckons us all to take a closer look, and he appends a rich guide
to the historical attractions and museums of each of the plains states.
Austin College EDWARD PHILLIPS
The Texas Panhandle Frontier. By Frederick W. Rathjen. (Austin: Uni-
versity of Texas Press, 1974. Pp. 286. Illustrations, index $9.50.)
The Panhandle is an area of Texas distinct geographically, culturally,
and historically. It is a place of great distances and remarkable terrain
(which no early traveler failed to notice), of compelling mystery and high
adventure. Stories are told and retold of the ubiquitous, elusive Comanche
Indians to whom the Panhandle for centuries was home, of the marches of
Coronado and other Spanish adventurers searching the region, of the des-
perate struggles of the Texan-Santa Fe and Lost Nigger expeditions, of
Ranald S. Mackenzie's daring descent into Palo Duro Canyon, swift victory
over the Indians, and calculated slaughter of more than a thousand horses,
of the appropriation of the region by Charles Goodnight and other cattle-
men, and of Tascosa and the filling of graves on its Boothill. So proud are
Panhandle residents of their history, they have supported their own histori-
cal society for more than fifty years. Yet The Texas Panhandle Frontier is
the first published work to take the entire region for its focus.
In the style of regional history characteristic of the Texas State Historical
Association's late director, H. Bailey Carroll, under whom the book was
begun as a dissertation, Fred Rathjen sets the stage for his history with an
encyclopedic initial chapter on the physiography of the Panhandle. Two
successive chapters describing the Indian cultures and tribes-pre-historic
and historic-that inhabited the region and recounting the many Spanish

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/. Accessed September 22, 2014.