The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970 Page: 122
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and weaknesses. The result is a realistic balance in which courage
and narrowness of vision are present in almost equal proportions.
The footnotes and extensive bibliographies indicate the authors'
careful research in manuscript and other primary materials, as
well as a utilization of familiar secondary sources. While full-length
biographies are available for several of the subjects, and all have
been portrayed earlier in articles and in dissertations, the sketches
are so well written and concise that they appear fresh and interesting.
This volume should encourage other graduate students to under-
take similar projects. There remain many gaps in Texas history
which might appropriately be reduced in this way.
Texas A&M University CLAUDE H. HALL
Alfalfa Bill Murray. By Keith L. Bryant, Jr. (Norman: University
of Oklahoma Press, 1968. Pp. xiii+287. Illustrations, index. $6.95.)
As a disciple of James S. Hogg in the 1890o's, Alfalfa Bill Murray
came to believe that "Civilization begins and ends with the plow."
During a long political career in Oklahoma as congressman, governor,
and perennial candidate, Murray sought to implement the agrarian
ideals he had learned as a youth in Texas. Personally eccentric,
sometimes silly, but always interesting, Murray has found a sympa-
thetic and competent biographer in Professor Bryant.
The author's careful research and lucid presentation takes Murray
from his initial forays in Oklahoma territorial politics through his
declining years as an anti-Semitic opponent of the New Deal. In
the process, Bryant reveals how Murray's faith in agriculture as the
basis of society became increasingly irrelevant to his native state
and the nation at large. Solutions which had only marginal utility
for agrarian problems in 1900oo had deteriorated into foolish panaceas
when Murray became governor of Oklahoma in 1931. His four-year
tenure, filled with declarations of martial law, disputes with Wash-
ington, and an occasional constructive achievement, illustrated the
intellectual bankruptcy of southwestern state governments during
the Great Depression.
As a biographer, Professor Bryant has been content to set forth
the essential facts of Murray's life and has kept interpretation to
a minimum. This decision limits the usefulness of the book. There
is, for instance, no attempt to compare Murray to other regional
politicians like James E. Ferguson or Huey Long, even though there
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970, periodical, 1970; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/m1/138/?rotate=90: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.