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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

tor nevertheless maintains that he is unfettered by rigorously applied
definitions. And the reader does understand, both by the editor's scat-
tered statements and by the selection of articles, that he accepts an ear-
lier, cosmic notion of folk art. Writers who are currently challenging
the old stereotypes about the subject could argue that some of what is
contained in the anthology is, in fact, not folk art. For example, Eddie
Arning, whose paintings are included in this collection (and whose
work was recently featured at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art
Center), might more accurately be considered an artist working outside
of tradition rather than within any folk-art tradition. And several of the
essays do not illustrate what is peculiarly "Texan" about their subjects.
Perhaps we are at an early stage in the study of Texas folk art. Like a
writer who collects information and only later begins consciously to sort
and discard, those interested in Texas folk art are at the stage of gener-
ating information and soon will begin the process of refining. What we
have in Abernethy's well-illustrated, but not well-designed, volume is a
beginning.
Harris County Heritage Society CYNTHIA A. BRANDIMARTE
Prime Cut: Livestock Raising and Meatpacking in the United States, 1607-
1983. By Jimmy M. Skaggs. (College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M
University Press, 1986. Pp. xiii+263. Preface, photographs, notes,
bibliography, index. $28.50.)
At last someone has written a comprehensive work on one of Amer-
ica's most celebrated industries. Prime Cut, by Jimmy Skaggs, is an all-
encompassing study of stock breeding from colonial Jamestown to the
present. More than a history of cattle barons, trail drives, and cowboys,
this is a story of the "redmeat industry" in its entirety. Cattle, sheep,
swine, goats, even poultry production, all are traced from colonial ori-
gins on family farms to contemporary agribusiness. Meticulously re-
searched, the book nearly overwhelms the reader with pertinent facts,
numbers, and government reports.
Along the way Skaggs corrects several popular misconceptions. For
example, livestock production in the United States has always come
mostly from small farms and marginal operations, not the big spreads.
Trailing livestock to market did not originate in Texas following the
Civil War, but probably in Puritan Massachusetts, where colonials
herded swine and turkeys into Boston. Best of all, Skaggs clearly dem-
onstrates that stockmen have historically pleaded for government pro-
grams and aid to eliminate-not preserve-free-market conditions.
Equally impressive is the author's treatment of the meat-packing in-
dustry. Skaggs details the steady rise of meat packing from a limited

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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 September 23, 2014.