The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

You have- to respect an organization that opens its voluminous files and sorted
memories to a journalist for the purpose of "telling the truth." In what could
have been a boastful discourse, Lewis Fisher presents a balanced story of achieve-
ment and loss for one of the state's most remarkable civic organizations, the San
Antonio Conservation Society. The society's selection of Fisher as its chronicler
foretold of an administrative history that placed an emphasis on storytelling
rather than analyzing preservation or urban planning strategies. For most read-
ers, that was a wise choice, and Fisher does a creditable job of weaving facts and
events into clear and direct prose that often draws you into an unfolding plot of
colorful characters. His use of relatively brief chapters focused on particular
issues makes it possible to get a good sense of the varied players and events from
before the society's founding in 1924 up to the present.
Fisher's work is perhaps most useful to historians and preservationists for its
coverage of a variety of local issues and revealing inside stories of the
Conservation Society. He tells a history of intricate negotiations and maneuver-
ing through a maze of urban politics and high finance that would overwhelm
most organizations. These efforts are usually set in a larger context of communi-
ty development in San Antonio that includes such rarely mentioned subjects as
the Old Spanish Trail tourist highway and underground parking garages. Some
interesting correspondence with Charles Fletcher Lummis in Los Angeles about
saving the San Jose mission and discussion of the contributions of Sen. Ralph
Yarborough add a national perspective to the generally local focus. The format
of the book is also refreshing. Many historical images of buildings are placed
near recent ones, which gives the reader a visual conclusion for some of the
more significant preservation projects. Despite the overall success of the publica-
tion, Fisher's misuse of architectural terms and lack of knowledge of historic
preservation organizations and programs are distracting and unfortunate. An
occasional lapse into biblical analogy also takes away from the story and its his-
torical interpretation.
Saving San Antonio is a great addition to the established body of literature on
state and local history and especially useful to women's history and the emerging
areas of urban planning and tourism history. It is a noteworthy achievement for
both Fisher and the society that brings hope to young preservation organizations
and a challenge to matures ones.
Texas Historical Commission DWAYNE JONES
Reporting the Kennedy Assassination: Journalists Who Were There Recall Their
Experiences. Edited by Laura Hlavach and Darwin Payne. (Dallas: Three
Forks Press, 1996. Pp. vi+174. Foreword, opening comments, illustrations,
acknowledgments, introduction, chronology, participants. ISBN 0-9637629-
2-3. $10.00, paper.)
As a stunned nation sat transfixed in front of television screens battling shock
and grief that late November 1963 weekend, journalists in Dallas fought their
own struggle. To them fell the task of unraveling and reporting the tragic and

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed October 20, 2014.