The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986

Book Reviews

tion of explicit statements, as well as much other minutiae, seems im-
possible, Dale either maintained a very extensive diary or else at times
skillfully resorted to fictional statements too realistic to detect.
Texas Tech University ERNEST WALLACE
The Explorer's Texas: The Lands and Waters. By Del Weniger. (Austin:
Eakin Publications, Inc., 1984. Pp. xii+224. Acknowledgments,
introduction, maps, illustrations, endnotes, bibliography, index.
This handsome 224 double-column-page book deals with three as-
pects of the Texas landscape-"The Land Discovered," "The Waters
Discovered," and "The Destruction of Texas as It Was." Weniger intro-
duces us to the various prairies, plains, forests, rivers, springs, and es-
tuaries before major man-made alterations set in after the Civil War.
He has read avidly and widely to produce a fascinating and invaluable
bibliography of 318 items, mostly travel accounts, diaries, reminis-
cences, and official reports drawn from the periods of Spanish and
Mexican dominion, the Republic, and early statehood. The text is liber-
ally scattered with maps, old prints, and illustrations (I especially like
the prairie fire, p. 195), and has appropriate endnotes and a four-page
The author has reconstructed the original environment through an
excellent juxtaposition of eyewitness accounts and a narrative that helps
the reader differentiate the weed, hog wallow, and shaking prairie, and
the galeria forest from upland forest. He is to be applauded for insist-
ing that we go back to the sources themselves in order to establish what
early observers saw and where they saw it, and to cross-check accounts
of identical features in order to reveal bias among various observers
who called attention to specific localities or features. His intention is to
see Texas as it was, and he has read widely in order to achieve his goal.
The result is a strong portrayal of the original physiography, vegeta-
tion, and hydrology of the state. Some boosterism about "wonderful
prairies" or "maiden rivers" creeps in but attests to the author's commit-
ment to his region, which is assisted considerably by Eakin Press's use of
color plates in presenting this research. This reviewer's only complaint
is that pages 1 6o-161 and 164-165 in his copy were blank.
The dynamics of landscape alteration are held appropriately until
last. Part Three, on the "Destruction of Texas as It Was," runs to only


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed October 10, 2015.