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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

County named Martin "Buster" Lehnis observes in recalling his own life as a
long-time railroad man that "Everything on the Abilene and Southern was kin-
folks. If you wasn't kin to somebody, you didn't get the work. Unless you wanted
to dig. If you were a section hand or something like that, you didn't have to be
kin. If you got to be a foreman or anything else, you had to be kin to somebody"
(p. 186). Such revelations, so treasured by practitioners of the new social history,
are scarce in Texans.
Oral historians in this state who apply their interviewing skills to pivotal histor-
ical developments which have shaped modern Texas in politics, public policy,
commerce, banking, urbanization, racial and gender roles, energy, biomedicine,
and dozens of other transforming pursuits will find that Strickland does not
usurp any beckoning opportunities, including the important task of examining
dispassionately the mythic Texas which captivates his vision. Also, oral historians
can rightfully regret that Strickland doesn't explain how his transcripts are edit-
ed, why his questions are omitted, why his interviews are undated, and whether
his tapes are accessible to others.
Having departed Texas, Strickland is applying his formula elsewhere. His next
book is Cajuns, Crackers, and Tarheels, about Southerners, to be followed by
Alaskans.
Oral History Project, Baylor College of Medicine CHARLES T. MORRISSEY
Galveston: A History of the Island. By Gary Cartwright. (New York: Atheneum,
1991. Pp. ix+338. Author's note, index. $22.50.)
In Galveston: A History of the Island, journalist Gary Cartwright offers readers
less a history than a "profile" of society in the Texas port city. Written in a breezy
style intended to emphasize the "color" and "feel" of the Oleander City, Galve-
ston: A History of the Island adds little to existing works on the city or to our un-
derstanding of island society. Much of the factual content seems to be lifted
from David G. McComb's earlier city biography on Galveston, which Cartwright
admits in his introduction to having borrowed heavily from. Scholars will find
themselves frustrated by the book's lack of footnotes. The author traces Galve-
ston from its earliest days of settlement by the Karankawas to its rise as an entre-
pot center and port and then to the city's economic demise after 1900 and
recent rebirth as a tourist center. Unfortunately, Cartwright's retelling of Galve-
ston's history demonstrates little interpretative subtlety or understanding. Too
often, his focus on personalities precludes a broader explanation of the histori-
cal context of events. For example, in describing the political career in the
1830s of the land speculator and pioneer merchant and banker Samuel May
Williams, Cartwright resorts to the name-calling of Williams's contemporaries,
rather than an analysis of the class tensions and backgrounds of Galveston set-
tlers (p.76).
The second half of the book focuses on the period since 1900oo. Cartwright
clearly blames Galveston's leading families, particularly the Moodys, for the city's
economic downfall rather than the 1 900 hurricane or the wider diminution in

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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 October 25, 2014.