The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 356
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the achievements of the cattlemen as a whole." Evidently the
stories that she has in mind are factual. Among the cattlemen
whom she selects there are violent and overbearing ones like
Print Olive along with fair and farsighted ones like Loving and
Goodnight, so that there are plenty of contrasts and conflicts. For
the most part the incidents related show the cattlemen warring
with Indians, homesteaders, and smaller cattlemen. The Johnson
County War is retold at length. The achievement of the cattleman
seems to be that while carrying on in this way he managed to
produce beef and get it to market.
The table of contents presents a chronologically arranged plan,
beginning with the first cow on the Great Plains. A reader who
opened the book at random might wonder whether he had a
historical novel in his hands; he would recognize the names of
real persons and at the same time he would find invented con-
versations, readily supplied details, and poetic language. Miss
Sandoz often uses the diction and technique of the fiction writer.
"Even so, it was no Natchez promenade with ruffled parasols and
crinolines for a lady, Goodnight was told." Another example:
"'Back to the TA,' he commanded, and spurred his horse into a
run that showered pebbles into the dawn-gray sagebrush." About
the Big Bend country of Texas: "Most of it was barren earth and
rock, the stream squeezed into a deep canyon by the dark and
rugged mountains, like a great hard-knuckled fist thrusting the
river toward Mexico." These tricks of the storyteller do not really
violate basic historical truth, but they are likely to arouse dis-
belief when met in a kind of writing not frankly fictitious.
The subject matter of this book is historical in the sense that
the conditions existed and the events took place. The literary
method is largely that of the fictionist. Emphasis falls on incidents
involving strong or violent action, and the historical continuum
is weak. The reader who knows some history will not be led into
a confusion of fact and fiction, and he will find plenty of rapid,
dramatic narration to quicken his interest and enliven his
imagination. WILSON M. HUDSON
University of Texas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/432/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.