The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Haley's scholarship, including "And Then Came Barbed Wire," "The Co-
manchero Trade," "Texian Saddles," and "Personal Justice on the Arizona
Desert," along with a number of familiar essays and a powerful expose of federal
agricultural policy under President Franklin Roosevelt, "Cow Business and Mon-
key Business," a polemic which is still topical even though first issued in 1934.
Of these pieces I like best "The Panhandle of the Old Cowman" and "What
Makes Texas Tick," the latter originally published in 1986, when its author was
eighty-four, and a peroration to his entire career. In that sesquicentennial sum-
mation, Haley observes of Texans, "Whether we are likable or not, nobody de-
nies that we are different." Add to that characterization "toughfibered, robust,
resilient, ever-adventurous and ambitious" and we get not just the image of the
old-time Texan but ofJ. Evetts Haley himself as cowman, historian, bookman,
public figure, patron, and political observer. Love of the land and careful re-
spect for the prescription of his ancestors finishes out the image. But though Mr.
Haley has resembled other Texans, there is nevertheless no one like him. In the
presence of his new book, all that we can do is to rejoice in wonder as he contin-
ues to address us. So long as he speaks, the patrimony speaks among us, our in-
heritance in a "wise prejudice," in the Burkean serenity of his cultural analysis
and the soundness of his views.
University of Dallas MELVIN E. BRADFORD
Texans: Oral Histories from the Lone Star State. By Ron Strickland. (New York:
Paragon House, 1991- Pp. 335. Acknowledgments, introduction, glossary,
index, black-and-white photographs. $24.95.)
Oral history is thriving in Texas. The 1991 Yearbook of the Texas Oral History
Association shows a roster of 190 members, and the upcoming president of the
national Oral History Association, Albert S. Broussard of Texas A&M University,
will be the third Texan since the fall of 1988 to serve in that office. Ron Strick-
land's Texans: Oral Hzstories from the Lone Star State, however, is not a product of
this oral history activity, nor will it rank as a landmark in the compilations being
generated by these oral historians.
A native New Englander now living in Seattle, Strickland's formula for assem-
bling oral history books-this is his fourth-is uncomplicated. Traveling in a
Volkswagen camper he calls Hodge (for hodgepodge?), he searches for "down
home" (p. xvi) folks who, speaking from their life experiences, readily evoke the
mythic ethos of their region. A photograph on the dust jacket of Texans shows
him poised with one foot on the running board of an ancient automobile, a
portable tape recorder slung over his right shoulder, and a microphone in his
left hand tilted towards the bearded old-timer in the driver's seat, who is proba-
bly reminiscing about life along the snow-banked dirt road which curves upward
in the background. This scene so aptly depicts the testimonies Strickland obtains
that the same photograph appears on the covers of two of his previous books,
Vermonters: Oral Histories from Down Country to the Northeast Kingdom (Chronicle
Books, 1986) and Whistlepunks and Geoducks: Oral Histories from the Pacific North-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117154/. Accessed December 26, 2014.