restricted access Colossal Hamilton of Texas: A Biography of Andrew Jackson Hamilton (review)
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book reviews361 flaws and may even forgive Lord's elementary style, his uninspired use of sources, and his shocking abuses of syntax. But the volume suffers from two shortcomings much more serious. First, except for materials contained in an extensive appendix, research adequate only for an article has been inflated into a book. Thus a book of 162 pages, discounting preh'minaries, blank pages, and appendix, yields barely sixty pages of narrative. The reader is ever conscious that research has been stretched to the limit to fill up space, sometimes with information that reveals more of Dr. Lord's knowledge of the Civil War than it does of the business of sutling. Even then, several chapters fail to achieve as much as four pages in length. One of them, just short of two pages and grandly entitled "Confederate Sutlers and Supplies," consists mainly of a lengthy list of patent medicines, almost none of which, die author is constrained to admit, were available in the Confederacy, at least not from Confederate sutlers, who existed more in theory than in practice anyway. The second principal shortcoming is that the book is not directed to a clear-cut audience. Is this "popular" history? Then what use will the general reader make of fifty-nine pages of appendix, listing sutlers, their units, and manufacturers and wholesalers of sutlers' goods? Or is this book intended to inspire further research? Then why is documentation , a convention expected of a volume claiming a scholarly purpose, utterly lacking? Readers familiar with previous works by Dr. Lord are bound to be disappointed in Civil War Sutlers and Their Wares. To say that this book, despite a few merits, is even mediocre would be too generous an appraisal. The subject is fresh and could have been exciting , but the book lacks competence in language and style that would make it appealing to the general reader; it lacks the skillful use of research that would recommend it to professional historians; and it lacks documentation tiiat would render it useful to students wishing to pursue the subject. In his haste to "make a book," Dr. Lord has compromised the very qualities that make the effort worth while. Donald Spear San Diego, California Colossal Hamilton of Texas: A Biography of Andrew Jackson Hamilton. By John L. Waller, (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1968. Pp. xii, 152. $5.00). Immediately after the Civil War A. J. Hamilton profoundly affected the future of Texas. A congressman who rejected secession in 1861 and who later became a brigadier general in the Union army, he returned to Texas after Appomattox as provisional governor. For the next four years he helped fashion the post-war policies within the state. And even though often detested and openly despised by his fellow countrymen, he was responsible for bringing about a more moderate Republican atti- 362civil war history tude toward the former Confederates and lessening die harsh effects of Reconstruction in Texas. While sometimes at a disadvantage because of excessive drinking, a vitriolic tongue, and an ungovernable temper, Hamilton still influenced many decisions concerning important problems facing Texans. By the Constitution of 1866 he forced them to disavow the right of secession, end slavery, and repudiate the Civil War debt of Texas. In 1876, as associate justice of die state supreme court, he ruled on "explosive" issues relating to former slaves, property rights, and administration of estates. The next year he helped frame a new state constitution and in 1869 split with E. J. Davis and die Radical Republicans over Negro suffrage , thereby receiving an endorsement for governor from such local Democratic leaders as John H. Reagan and O. M. Roberts. Although objectively written and obviously well-researched, the Hamilton biography by John L. Waller, former chairman of the history department and graduate dean at die University of Texas at El Paso, is somewhat disappointing. Too often die author weakens his statements by such phrases as "may," "possibly," "must have been," "appears likely," and "virtually certain." Surely, after such extensive investigation, he could have been more positive regarding the thinking of Hamilton and, like many biographers, could have "gotten inside the man." Yet at times Waller has made some statement of...