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

Book Reviews

his military accomplishments. It is hoped this work will inspire other, more
focused studies of Magruder's character, familial relationships, and strained
associations with Jefferson Davis, R. E. Lee, and others.
Students of Texas history will appreciate the attention given to Magruder's
years in the state. Although the Texas he inherited as Confederate comman-
der shared a common destiny with the Old South, it faced unique challenges
related to international trade, frontier hostilities, intense Union sentiment,
lingering isolationism, and neighboring foreign instability, all within a land
too vast to defend in a practical way. To Magruder's credit, he worked hard
with what he had, and the people of Civil War Texas viewed him as a hero for
his successful efforts on their behalf. Casdorph's work only serves to enhance
that worthy legacy.
Texas Historical Commission DAN K. UTLEY
Bricks Without Straw: A Comprehensive History of African Americans in Texas. By David
A. Williams. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1997. Pp. x+457. Preface, introduction,
illustrations, biographies, endnotes, bibliography, contributors, index. ISBN
1-57168-041-1. $29.95, cloth.)
When Alwyn Barr published Black Texans in 1973 he helped launch the
modern professional study of African American history in Texas. In the years
that followed scores of books and articles have explored one or another
aspect of the black experience in Texas. Now, almost a quarter century after
the publication of Barr's book, David A. Williams has taken on the task of sur-
veying the entire scope of African American history in Texas. Williams' book
is not an easy one to categorize. It is part narrative history, part an edited col-
lection of essays, and part almanac or encyclopedia. While this mixture con-
tains many valuable components, it is not a comprehensive history of African
Americans in Texas.
In the first section of this study Williams surveys black history from the early
sixteenth century to the present. Because of its brevity this section provides
only an outline of African American history. Much of it focuses on biographi-
cal sketches of prominent and not so prominent black Texans, much like the
booklet "The Afro-American Texans" published by the Institute of Texas
Cultures and the Trailblazer series of biographies of prominent African
Americans; other sections draw heavily on previously published works, such as
Merline Pitre's study of black leadership in Texas during Reconstruction. The
absence of documentation in this section makes it difficult to separate
Williams' contributions from the various sources that he relies on.
The second section of the book consists of nine essays on African Americans
in Texas, ranging from a study of Seminole-Negro scouts in Texas to the histo-
ry of African American Catholicism in Austin. There are several excellent
essays in this section. The best is Louise Passey Maxwell's finely researched and
documented study of Houston's freedmantown neighborhood in the fifteen
years following the civil war. Also interesting and informative are Williams' two

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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 July 25, 2014.