The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942

Book Reviews

The Clarks, An American Phenomenon. By William D. Mangum.
New York: Silver Bow Press, 1941. Pp. ix, 257. $2.50.
Charles A. Beard says: "The Clark book is one of the most
amazing stories of American economy and life that has ever
been written. It is a document on the wages of greed and irre-
sponsible wealth. It is powerful in its stark brevity and con-
ciseness."
Similarly extravagant statements have somehow been ex-
tracted from a number of equally eminent and competent people,
among them Edward Alsworth Ross, who wrote the Introduc-
tion in the course of which he remarked: "The author makes
charges which would undoubtedly lay him open to ruin by many
successful libel suits were he not in a position to substantiate
them."
In spite of himself, this reviewer is inclined to believe that
this is the explanation of the praise that has been heaped upon
the book. It is the fact that the author goes beyond mere muck-
raking to indulge in the dangerous pastime of near-libelous
writing that gives the book something of the "thriller" quality
of a detective story. This, we suspect, constitutes its basic
appeal rather than its alleged "stark brevity," "vivid style,"
"objectivity," and "directness." Writing from the inside posi-
tion of a close business associate, the author could and dared
to say that which no other biographer might have said without
facing a libel suit. And even this story was not published until
the Clark fortune was largely dissipated and the Clark family,
broken by the death of its men, was represented only by a few
remale descendants.
In the author's own words this is "the biography of an
Argonaut of the early sixties and his children, each of whom
in his own way, outgrew the West." It is written by the man
who was for thirty years the business agent of one of the sons
of the principal character, a son whom the writer labels a sex
pervert, at the same time confessing to have served him for
many years as secretary-treasurer in two of his companies.
This business relationship constitutes one of the sources on
which the author draws for his data. For the rest, there is only
the statement: "The material comes from many sources. . .
Data not resting upon personal knowledge or contacts were
obtained from sources regarded as reliable.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146053/. Accessed August 21, 2014.