The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970 Page: 427

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Book Reviews

Walter Prescott Webb. Compiled and edited by C. B. Smith, Sr. (Aus-
tin: privately published, 1969. Pp. 146.)
Somewhere the shade of Walter Prescott Webb is stomping along,
an Old Gold cigarette in his mouth, his hat pulled down almost to his
eyebrows, his shoulders hunched forward against the wind, as he
grumbles some choice remarks regarding all that fuss being made
about him. But, as was so often the case during his lifetime, the grum-
ble and sour look mask distinct and sincere pleasure. C. B. Smith, Sr.,
has made a signal contribution in his volume, Walter Prescott Webb:
From the Great Frontier to the Threshold of Space. He has taken the
lead in bringing together the record of the activities of those who
remember and value their association with W. P. Webb, including
some who knew him only through his writings. As Smith says in his
introduction, no attempt is made to idolize Webb; rather, the object
is to communicate to others the intellectual powers possessed by Webb,
his ability to write cogently, his unique gift for synthesis, and his ready
The central position of ideas in Webb's cosmology may be seen in
his practice of keeping pencil and paper on the night stand beside his
bed for fear he might awake during the night with a new idea, only
to forget it by morning. He was willing to entertain any notion, no
matter how exotic or seemingly insignificant, if the thought offered
originality. He wove into his tapestry of history such apparently dis-
parate elements as the eohippus, John Maynard Keynes, and New
York's George Washington Bridge. For Webb, the boundaries of his-
tory encompassed all knowledge.
Smith's compendium of plans, reports, opinions, and correspondence
goes a long way toward insuring the attractiveness of the Webb Great
Frontier Foundation. His record of the meeting of the Friends of W. P.
Webb, held at Friday Mountain Ranch on March 8, 1969, brings not
only a sense of deep regret to those of us who could not attend, but
also provides a roster of participants, reputable and otherwise, all of
whom were touched by Webb's genius. Given adequate publicity, the
proposed activities of the Webb Great Frontier Foundation: a world
symposium on the Great Frontier, establishment of a scholarly chair
in Webb's name at the University of Texas at Austin, scholarship as-
sistance for financially pressed undergradutes, and expansion of the
Arlington series of Webb Memorial Lectures, are desirable and


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970, periodical, 1970; Austin, Texas. ( accessed October 24, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.