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

Book Reviews

Relying heavily on criminal and court records and the rather sensa-
tionalist press, Butler has perhaps swung the pendulum too far and a
bit repetitiously toward misery. Even her own evidence suggests occa-
sional success, whether in monetary terms, in marriage or social assimi-
lation, or in companionship. While a rosy image of prostitution in the
West is as pervasive as it is mythical, Butler seems too ready to declare
her subjects guilty if arrested and their stories apocryphal if posi-
tive. But this well-written study does show how astonishingly pervasive
and acknowledged prostitution was in the rural as well as the urban
West, and the price-social, economic, and emotional-its practitioners
often paid.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology SARAH DEUTSCH
Red Scare! Right-Wing Hysteria, Fifties Fanaticism, and Their Legacy in
Texas. By Don E. Carleton. (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985.
Pp. xii+39o. Foreword, preface, prologue, illustrations, notes, es-
say on sources, index. $19.95.)
The recurrence of red scares in American history is like herpes in the
body politic. The lesion is embarrassing but not fatal; and it appears at
moments of stress but eventually goes away. To Don E. Carleton, the
director of the Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas,
Austin, fear of change and the unknown is a primal instinct, a part of
us all. The red-scare mentality is rooted in such fear, he concludes, and
has never disappeared from Texas. The disease is with us yet.
His book focuses upon the anti-Communist movement in Houston,
Texas, during the first half of the 1950s. The stage was set by earlier
leftist activities in the 193os and 1940s, and by newspaper sensationalism
in the 1950s. The leaders of the city either fanned the flames of the
hysteria or remained neutral. Such organizations as the American Le-
gion, the Committee for the Preservation of Methodism, and the local
chapter of the Minute Women led the attack to expose and expel home-
town Communists. They found none, but did succeed in banning sev-
eral textbooks, harrassing and intimidating the school teachers, pre-
venting the contract renewal of the assistant school superintendent,
and keeping the city in turmoil. Dr. George W. Ebey, the assistant su-
perintendent who was attacked at his first board meeting, commented,
"I find it a bit ironic ... that probably my most significant contribution
to education came from being lynched professionally by savages in a
community where I was relatively a stranger" (p. 223).
The anti-Communist groups, however, never took over the city, and
their influence faded with the downfall of their national hero, Senator

359

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/. Accessed October 25, 2014.