W. Lee O'Daniel and Texas Politics, 1938-1942. By Seth
Shepard McKay. Lubbock (Texas Tech. Press), Copyright
date 1944 (but issued 1945). Pp. 628.
Nearly fifty years ago Edward Stanwood published a book
entitled, A History of the Presidency. It is a brief survey of
presidential election campaigns devoted chiefly to candidates,
party nominees, party platforms, campaigns, and election re-
turns. It is most useful, and will continue to be, to students
of American political history and government. Mr. McKay,
covering five years of Texas politics centering around the rather
amazing, almost incomprehensible, career of W. Lee O'Daniel,
has produced a work greatly superior in interest to the Stan-
wood book and one that will probably surpass it in usefulness
to students and readers in the narrower field of state politics.
The seven chapters describe the two elections of O'Daniel to
the governor's office; his relations with two legislatures; the
two elections to the United States Senate, with his record in
the Senate down to 1942. Incidental to the main theme are
biographical sketches of O'Daniel's rivals, their platforms, and
their campaigns. The information is drawn almost wholly
from contemporary Texas newspapers and magazines, from
Texas House and Senate Journals, and from the Congressional
Record. The writer is wholly objective, and this reader at least
has been unable to find a clue to Professor McKay's own
attitude toward O'Daniel or toward any of his defeated rivals.
The book does not lack characterizations, however, by capable
writers whom the author judiciously quotes or paraphrases.
Several reflections and questions must occur to the reader.
No doubt they occurred to the author, but, in keeping with
his stern objectivity, he does not express them. In perspective,
it must appear to a candid reader that O'Daniel had, or evolved,
during his first campaign and in the months following his first
primary, a program to which he adhered consistently and
frankly. On pages 404-405, the author tabulates the principal
proposals that the governor made to the legislature and those
that the legislature adopted. Among those passed by the legis-
lature were a constitutional amendment prohibiting appropria-
tions in excess of revenues, and laws raising the truck load
limit, financing Big Bend Park, prohibiting gambling devices,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/. Accessed October 30, 2014.