The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 518
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
or knock him cold. Fortunately, readers can ignore such prefaces
and get on with the book.
With the first chapter Goodwyn launches an unusual (one is
tempted to say a unique) interpretation of Texas mixtures, land
and people, weather and ways, plans and accidents, animals and
architecture. Through sections named after more than four winds
("peppery," "strong," "bleak," "stern") the author has indeed
"embraced" all those social sciences. The book's embrace, how-
ever, is very like that of Walt Whitman, and the verbal tone a
kind of half-polite (never really barbaric) yawp similar to Whit-
man's. Echoes of the Whitman yawp will linger with all readers
who are not impressed by Goodwyn's repeated emphasis on re-
search method, accuracy, and other virtues of the academic study.
The truth is, that like many good travel pieces, reminiscences,
sports stories, political accounts, and popular geographic pieces,
this book is in large part a nervous, prose-poetic monologue.
If one does not worry too much about the perspective adver-
tised in the title, several of Goodwyn's interpretative qualities
stand out. He is vividly aware of the Texas scene (and he has
enforced his descriptive ability with excellent photographs and
maps). He is genuinely sympathetic with the less comely and less
affluent side of the state, but he sweeps that hat wide to its
bounteousness and beauty and billions. He writes recent history
with more confidence than a whole poker-game of foreign cor-
respondents. He makes intelligible a good deal that most aca-
demic writers succeed only in making dull. He is, for a great
deal of the work, the Rich Man's John Gunther.
That is enough for one writer. The book's limitations may be
excused, but they cannot be ignored. Goodwyn fills his pages
with personal likes and dislikes. He does not bring his book up
to date (his research method was content with 1952 data in a
1955 book). In the area where a college professor might be ex-
pected to be both knowledgeable and sophisticated-higher edu-
cation-he is either naive or deliberately provocative. In the latter
part of the book (ironically called "The Heart of Texas," and
devoted to sections titled "Big Money," "Big Brains," and "Lone
Star in the Ascendancy") his method and his account go to pieces.
His comment on the arts, except the art of writing, is feeble.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956, periodical, 1956; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/m1/550/: accessed February 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.