The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 134
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134 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
Keepers of the Spirit: The Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M Universzty, r876-200oo. By
John A. Adams Jr. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001. Pp.
xix+396. Illustrations, tables, foreword, preface, introduction, epilogue,
appendices, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 1-58544-126-0. $40.00, cloth.)
Since 1876, the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University have made a con-
spicuous contribution to this nation's military history, with more than two hun-
dred cadets eventually achieving the rank of general or flag officer. And to this
day, the Corps remains the largest military organization at any academic institu-
tion in the country outside of the national military academies. In Keepers of the
Spizt, John A. Adams Jr., the author of two previous books on Texas A&M and a
prizewinning study of efforts to manage the Colorado River, provides an admir-
ing chronicle of the history of Texas A&M and the Corps of Cadets.
It is the rare reader who will not be struck by Adams's extensive research. The
range of sources consulted in the preparation of this study is truly impressive. In
a clear and straightforward narrative of events, Adams ably describes the devel-
opment of the college and the Corps in the context of the evolution of the
American military during the twentieth century. He provides a vivid picture of
the school's difficult early years and good descriptions of the leaders who have
shaped the development of the Corps, as well as an interesting treatment of the
changing place of the cadets in the larger academic institution. And as a former
member of the Corps, Adams's palpable enthusiasm for his subject is one that
most current and former cadets will no doubt appreciate.
Yet therein lies a problem with the book. Despite Adams's efforts to maintain
a dispassionate, scholarly approach, he is clearly "into" his subject and his parti-
sanship and sympathies are not difficult to discern. Although accepting of
changes in the Corps, Adams clearly has little patience for those who have criti-
cized its traditions, particularly in the past few decades, and tends to dismiss
recent critics as antimilitary zealots or politically motivated liberal outsiders.
Some will wish for more context in places. Desegregation of Texas A&M and the
Corps is only given a paragraph. Was there no resistance within a Corps that was
proud of its ultraconservative, Southern heritage to the admittance of African
Americans and their integration into the Corps? How was the issue of race han-
dled in earlier generations of the Corps? To what degree did instruction reflect
reactionary Southern ideas on race and other cultural matters? These questions go
unanswered. This is particularly curious, given that Adams approvingly cites Rod
Andrew Jr.'s recent study of southern military colleges, which provides an excel-
lent discussion of the relationship between post-Civil War military education in
the South, race, and the Lost Cause. Adams's neglect of race also contrasts con-
spicuously with his good discussion of A&M's enlightened "Minerva Plan," which
involved cadets in all phases of the process of bringing women into the Corps.
In the final analysis, the usefulness of Adams's study will depend on the read-
er's experience with and interest in this subject. Although of limited value to
outsiders, current and future alumni of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M will
definitely welcome this handsomely designed book and assign it a prominent
place in their library.
United States Mlztary Academy
ETHAN S. RAFUSE
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/162/?rotate=90: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.