The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 164

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The opening chapters are based on SR correspondence; other sources
are used but sparingly. The geographical setting is described and the
early history of the ranch follows: its founding, difficulties with the
Kentucky Cattle Raising Company whose land was adjacent, search for
competent ranch management, and uncertain weather and cattle mar-
kets. A map locating the SR and other prominent places nearby and,
perhaps, a genealogy would have been welcome additions to these
Beginning in chapter to "the volume of available correspondence
decreases, and memory becomes more and more the source of relating
developments concerning the SR Ranch and the McNeills" (p. 75). The
narrative does not suffer in the transition from written record to recol-
lection. Interest is sustained to the end by the author's exposition and
his ability to record personal events as though he were an observer
rather than a participant.
Delightful anecdotes and gentle humor abound. In one anecdote,
the author's brother is "persuaded to ride a stick horse, our mother
convincing him that he would not find that type of transportation as
tiring as walking" (p. 72). In another, delivery of a bathtub ordered in
the fall is delayed because the freighter believed that "since winter
would be arriving soon, a bathtub would not be needed before spring"
(p. 72). A prank gone awry while a bull was castrated (p. 65), a hazard-
ous but effective technique for hunting coyotes (p. 68), and an outlaw
black gelding (p. 114) are just a few of the anecdotes that, in them-
selves, make this book worth reading. The McNezlls' SR Ranch: ioo
Years in Blanco Canyon deserves a prominent place in the collection of
anyone interested in the ranch history of Texas.
Ball State University DAVID L. WHEELER
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and Amerzca in Vietnam. By Neil
Sheehan. (New York: Random House, 1988. Pp. 862. Illustrations,
source notes, bibliography, index. $24.95.)
Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War are linked together in the his-
torical memory of the United States during the 196os. Efforts to under-
stand why the nation became embroiled in this Asian conflict have pro-
liferated in recent years. To that process of historical analysis, Neil
Sheehan's biography of John Paul Vann makes an important contribu-
tion. Using Vann's military and civilian career in Vietnam between 1962
and his death in 1972 as a case study of the experience of the United
States, Sheehan provides a rich and absorbing narrative of the Ameri-
can involvement in Southeast Asia.


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. ( accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.