The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 294
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
in an interview that if he had to destroy all his books but one, he
could not choose between The Great Plains and The Great Frontier."
The Texas Rangers, while a definitive study of that frontier agency,
he came to regard as a "competent journeyman's job," thinking more
highly of his Story of the Texas Rangers, written over twenty years
later, in which he said he "left out all those deadening facts."' On
another occasion Joe B. Frantz described The Texas Rangers as a
monument to Webb's patience, hard work, and ability to use lots of
detail-as a dull book but one from which many scenarios could be
secured. It is the book, however, that made Webb, for many Texans,
the man who had ridden the range and floated the Rio Grande with
After the book had been out of print for twenty years, the original
plates were acquired by the University of Texas Press, which brought
out a new edition in 1965, after Webb's death in an automobile acci-
dent in March, 1963. Press director Frank H. Wardlaw has stated that
the author had said that he wanted some changes made before publi-
cation, not only to bring the material up-to-date but to indicate
changes of view and alterations in interpretations of fact. Specifically,
Webb wanted to show that thirty years had brought a change in his
attitude toward Mexican-Americans because "if a man can't grow in
thirty years, he may as well be dead."6
Granted that The Texas Rangers is not Webb's greatest book, it
has its points. It took the longest time to write-seventeen years. Ranger
stories were Webb's first significant newspaper publications; the great-
est number of entries in the Webb bibliography concern Rangers; and
his posthumous publications as reprints or in anthologies come chiefly
from Ranger connection. More important, research on the Rangers
led to the conception of The Great Plains.
While Webb's view of Mexican-Americans was undergoing change
in thirty years, the voice of minority ethnic groups was becoming
strident, and animus toward the Rangers (or the "Rinches") was be-
coming vocal in the South Texas concentration of Mexican-Americans
*William A. Owens, Three Friends: Roy Bedichek, J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott
Webb (Garden City, New York, 1969), 250.
'Quoted in Wilbur R. Jacobs et al., Turner, Bolton, and Webb: Three Historians of
the American Frontier (Seattle, 1965), 82.
'Joe B. Frantz, "Proof of Webb's Professional Greatness," in C. B. Smith (ed.), Walter
Prescott Webb: From the Great Frontier to the Threshold of Space (Austin, 1969), 24.
6Wardlaw, "Webb: Idea Man-Organizer-Expediter," ibid., 29.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/306/: accessed February 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.