The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 107
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J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
frankly to me, and I was startled by some of his revelations. When
Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver was published, I read with interest his ac-
count of his discovery (with a man named C. B. Ruggles of El Paso) of
the Lost Tayopa Mine, and the next time I saw him, I congratulated
him on his find in the wilds of northern Mexico.
"I didn't find anything," he replied.
"Weren't you morally certain?"
"I wasn't even immorally certain."
"Well, you said you did."
"I know it. But I think when you are writing history, you have to stick
to the facts, but when you are telling a story, you have to make it a good
To my puritanical soul, this sounded illegal, immoral, and frightening.
"Well," I said, "in that case somebody is going to have to do your
work over again."
I got a grunt and a shrug in reply.
I am sad to say that after 1950 my friendly feelings for Dobie were
considerably eroded, though he may not have known it. He was almost
always negative about Texas books written by other people, and I sus-
pected him of reading a few pages, deciding on that basis that this
would never do, and giving the author the back of his hand. In some
cases, of course, it is possible to judge the quality of an entire book by its
beginning, but one does not like to have one's own work judged in this
fashion. Dobie maintained that my Cowboys and Cattle Kings: Life on the
Range Today (University of Oklahoma Press, 1950) was not the book to
end all books about the cowboy, and gave me a bad review. My subtitle
should have kept him from saying that. I naturally felt that Walter Pres-
cott Webb was closer to the truth when he called the work "unique" and
"a primary source on the cattle business in the year 1949-5o."2
Dobie was in a curious position. He liked to think of himself as a
modern representative of the old-line Texas cattleman, but at the same
time he was politically a flaming, or at least a smoldering, liberal, and
liberals thought of the cattlemen, old or new, as economic royalists, ex-
ploiters of the public domain, and (if rich) soulless capitalists. It seemed
to Dobie that I had sold out to the enemy. Savoie Lottinville, director of
the University of Oklahoma Press, was outraged. On June 16 he wrote:
If you got the Saturday Review of Literature for June 8 [sic] and if you have
seen J. Frank Dobie's long overdue review of COWBOYS AND CATTLE KINGS, you
must be in as bad a humor as I am today. Just because you do not agree with
Frank's political and economic conception, you have ipso facto done a bad job. I
2 Dobic's review appeared in Saturday Review of Literature, June 16, 1951, pp. 44-45
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/134/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.