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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

count of the crime, trial, and executions. Tangipahoa Parish, a major
strawberry-producing region, had long attracted Italian workers and
small farmers, but natives never hid their resentment and suspicions of
the newly arrived immigrants. Especially prominent was the fear, un-
founded but fueled by political invective, that Italian gangsters or the
Mafia threatened the entire region. Making the situation more perilous
for the six defendants was a prosecutorial staff, trial judge, and parole
board with sympathies or political ties to such nativist groups as the Ku
Klux Klan.
The book's major strength is its vigorous, descriptive narrative, cou-
pled with a compelling, dramatic pace. It should appeal to the edu-
cated public; indeed, one can envision its adaptation as a made-for-TV
movie. Weaknesses may be less apparent to laymen but should be of
concern to professional historians. Hundreds of direct quotes, as well
as numerous descriptions of emotional states and facial or body ges-
tures, lack adequate attribution. Even with the intense news coverage
devoted to the case, it is hard to believe that observers noted these
matters in the detail reported by Baiamonte. In some instances (e.g.,
pp. 98- 0oo), extensive dialogue and exact descriptions of mood go
completely undocumented. Also disturbing is the author's unwilling-
ness to make judgments about motives, actions, and the guilt or inno-
cence of the participants. Finally, there is a conspicuous absence of the
sort of analysis that sets history apart from fiction.
In sum, this is scholarship in the older tradition of narrative history.
It is interesting and tells a good story, but ultimately it is unsatisfactory
because it does little to advance our understanding of society or human
actions.
University of Southern Mississippi DAVID J. BODENHAMER
Why the South Lost the Civil War. By Richard E. Beringer, Herman Hat-
taway, Archer Jones, and William N. Still, Jr. (Athens: University of
Georgia Press, 1986. Pp. xi+582. Introduction, illustrations, maps,
tables, notes, bibliography, index. $29.95.)
Almost a quarter of a century ago, during the Civil War centennial,
Henry Steele Commager lamented the fact that the leaders of the Con-
federacy-humane and able people-would lead their country into a
war that they could not possibly win. Stimulated by this observation,
a small handful of historians, for better or for worse, authored this
volume.
As a reviewer, I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it are
fine. I particularly like the middle half, which describes the fighting of

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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 28, 2014.