The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 137

Book Reviews


His charge to the jury included a definition of treason as "giv[ing] aid or comfort
to the enemy, the German Empire, or conspir[ing] to undermine the war efforts
of the United States. It's that simple" (p. 323). Such a definition was, if anything,
vague. Judge Jack defined conspiracy so that all the defendants could be found
guilty. He referred to the FLPA as a "secret" organization when it was a fraternal
order. He also provided a chronology of conflict with Germany and how it coin-
cided with defendant activity, such as the break in U.S.-German relations, fol-
lowed a week later by the FLPA state convention. Janice Windle told a gathering
that when the book editor said the judge's charge was too unrealistically biased,
she replied, "it's verbatim."
The trial took place in a time when vendors sold "tiny gallows, each bearing
the name of one of the accused" (p. 42). In spite of the national mood and the
courtroom personalities, the jury was persuaded by Will Bergfeld's straightfor-
ward truth-telling and his attorney's skill. Although three leaders of the FLPA
were convicted on all counts, Will and forty-seven others were found innocent.
Will's War and its predecessors, True Women and Hill Country, are categorized as
fiction because of the dialogue weaving stories together, but each is based on
extensive documentation and research in private and public sources, and each is
lyrically written. The lessons of Wzll's War serve instructional purposes, in and
out of the classroom, on the recurring struggle to maintain constitutional free-
doms. Will's War shows that the power of fear and ethnic prejudice can contort
even this nation's values in a misguided attempt to accomplish a national agen-
da. In the aftermath of the 2oo0 attacks on America when the nation experi-
enced another wave of ethnic-based fear, Will's War is a wonderfully readable
commentary on the necessity of being unprejudiced if Americans are to truly
have liberty and justice for all.
Pzoneer Memorial Log House Museum, Houston ELIZABETH WHITLOW
Famous Texas Folklorists and Their Stories. By Jim Gramon. (Plano: Republic of
Texas Press, 2001. Pp. xv+284. Dedication, acknowledgments, introduction.
ISBN 1-55622-825-2. $18.95, paper.)
This book is a loving tribute from one good ol' boy Texan to a host of dead or
near dead others. It is not, as the title claims, about folklore, folklorists, or much
else for that matter. Jim Gramon begins his book with an antiquated misunder-
standing of what folklore is and what folklorists do, and then attempts to cram
all of his heroes under the umbrella simply because folklore sounds like some-
thing neat that real Texans should be well versed in. Since all of Gramon's boy-
hood heroes apparently told stories at one point or another, he deems them
folklorists in a sincere attempt at flattery.
Obviously Gramon's goal is to celebrate Texas storytelling in its informal, spit-
n-whittle glory. He brings together a personal litany of heroes and rascals that
make sense in a late-night, Sixth-Street, loose-herded sort of way, but the reader
cannot help but cringe at the forced dialect and casual disregard for continuity. I
admire Gramon for the mixed bag of famous Texans he chronicles (characters
like J. Frank Dobie, Liz Carpenter, "Cactus" Jack Pryor, Kinky Friedman, Mody
Boatright, Allen Damron, J. Mason Brewer, John Henry Faulk, and Ben Green)


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.