The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 208

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

an artist's story. It is a disservice to Koerner, and to his work, to consider
his paintings only within the narrow confines of commercial illustration.
His art is ample evidence that his contribution to western culture went
beyond giving visual forms to the words of others. A strong case can be
made for Koerner as a genuine artistic talent. Unfortunately there is
little to do with art in this book.
Midland, Texas DON HEDGPETH
Fortunes Are for the Few: Letters of a Forty-Niner. By Charles William
Churchill. Edited by Duane A. Smith and David J. Weber. (San
Diego: San Diego Historical Society, 1977. Pp. xiv+ 136. Photo-
graphs, appendices, bibliography, index. $12.50.)
Forty-niner memoirs and letters are just like nineteenth century
chronicles of cowboys and late twentieth century reminiscences of John
F. Kennedy associates and revelations of fading movie stars-just when
you think the market can't possibly absorb another, here comes a good
one that gives you reason to believe that the stall should remain open.
This collection of Charles William Churchill's letters constitutes one of
those refreshing contributions that make the wading worthwhile.
Churchill identifies with most of us. He came to California with high
hopes, and he didn't hit a bonanza. He tried-from Mariposa up near
Yosemite all the way down to Arizpe in the Mexican state of Sonora, but
he would have fared about as well if he had worked all that time for
wages. Certainly he would have done as well financially, but he wouldn't
have written these delightful accounts of how not to succeed in Califor-
nia. In a nation that adores winners, it is somehow tonic to have this
running account from an articulate loser.
The editors have performed an adroit job of providing the interstices.
They haven't overwhelmed the text with their scholarship (so often a
euphemism for pedantry), but at the same time they have given enough
information for the narrative to flow smoothly. We come away with the
feeling that we know about as much about Churchill as is worth know-
ing. But most of all, we gather a genuine feeling-even an affection-
for this lad who died at 32, worn out from big vision and small perfor-
The book is printed in a limited edition. It has all the makings of a
collector's item, for it will be prized by everyone who delights in a good
story well told.


University of Texas, Austin


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.