The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987

Book Reviews

he relies too much on this data base, and this reliance helps account for
the often undigested and poorly organized nature of his findings. Al-
though these figures tend to support the picture of a quite distinct
urban South, Larsen uses them to support his claim for the similarity
between southern cities and those elsewhere. This claim for similarity is
reinforced by Larsen's questionable definition of a "southern urban sys-
tem" that includes Baltimore, five Kentucky cities, and Washington,
D.C., but not any Texas cities. Several of his own tables, together with
contemporary opinion, suggest that Baltimore and the Kentucky cities
were not really "southern." In other instances, Baltimore and Louisville
are the only "southern" cities, aside from New Orleans, to rank among
the nation's leaders in such indices of urbanization as population size,
cultural institutions, or manufacturing.
At its core the book is too defensive. Unlike most recent scholars,
Larsen emphasizes the extent to which the South and its cities were like
the rest of the country, even as they remained true to their antebellum
origins. Yet once past the ambivalent statistical evidence, even Larsen
has to admit that in 1900 "an urban ethos was several decades away"
(p. 59). Rather than a difference merely in degree, there was a differ-
ence in kind, a difference that becomes even clearer if one redefines the
postbellum South to include Texas but not Maryland or Kentucky. And
rather than lagging behind or settling for a "clearly defined and
orderly urban system" (p. 160) because southern leaders planned it that
way, as Larsen claims, southern cities were distinctive in 19oo because
of failure, a failure based on inadequate resources and regional values
that undercut efforts at more rapid and impressive urban growth.
University of New Mexico HOWARD N. RABINOWITZ
The "Spider Web": Congress and Lobbying in the Age of Grant. By Margaret
Susan Thompson. (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986.
Pp. 288. Acknowledgments, prologue, tables, illustrations, notes,
index. $29.95.)
No period has suffered more from charges of political corruption
than the Gilded Age, and no force has been a target more than lob-
byists. Margaret Susan Thompson analyzes both these subjects in an
original and thoughtful fashion in a book that focuses on the House of
Representatives during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.
The author begins with some obvious but easily forgotten observa-
tions about lobbying. Scholars and the public usually perceive pres-
sures for educational funding as good, and those for assistance to

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/. Accessed July 10, 2014.