The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 444
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the historical method and should be held accountable for his lack of
incisive research. His sources consist mainly of newspapers, a few sec-
ondary works, and over ninety interviews with members of the indus-
try and the commission. He refused to reveal the names of those inter-
viewed because they would not "discuss the subject freely unless they
were promised anonymity" (p. vii). Such a procedure is unacceptable.
At the least, Prindle might have cross-checked his information with the
thirty-five feet of material in the Oral History of the Texas Oil Indus-
try housed in the archives at the University of Texas at Austin. The
archives include at least three other collections with material relevant
to subjects raised in the book: the Thomas Stalworth Henderson Pa-
pers, the James Stephen Hogg Papers, and the Garrett Hobert Nelson
Papers. With the exception of the published diary of Harold L. Ickes,
Prindle uses no national sources; and yet, he claims the commission
greatly affected national petroleum policies.
Such poor scholarship damages what might have been an interesting
and important work. In fact, Prindle offers a rather fascinating, though
conservative and unsupported, thesis: the commission's alleged favori-
tism toward the small producers, while inefficient in some respects,
actually resulted in positive accomplishments, those being the enhance-
ment of the Texas economy and the eventual conservation and recov-
ery of oil and gas reserves. For his argument to work, Prindle must
distinguish in a meaningful manner between the "majors" and the "in-
dependents" in the industry. He defines majors as those firms that inte-
grated any of the four operations in oil and gas: production, transpor-
tation, refining, and retail selling. Independents he defined as those
who did not integrate. Such a generalized dichotomy appears question-
able, given the diverse and dynamic aspects of business in Texas and
the lack of research Prindle performed. In his analysis, moreover, Prin-
dle confuses the issues. He maintains the commission protected the in-
dependents from competition and thus ensured every producer a piece
of the action, whether he was efficient or not. Yet he argues that this
policy encouraged risk-taking on the part of the independents, a prac-
tice usually associated with highly competitive and unregulated indus-
Thus, Prindle's argument is circular; he proved that which he de-
fined. A definitive analysis of the oil and gas division of the Railroad
Commission and its relation to Texas and the nation remains to be
University of Georgia
WILLIAM R. CHILDS
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/492/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.