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Reviews 97 But if he could make money rapidly, he could lose it equally rapidly. In the end, he lost even his great rancho, and died in something close to poverty. When, after more than four decades of petitions and legal proceedings, the Mexican government paid a large claim for goods furnished by Dalton for defense of California against the Americans, Dalton was long dead. Jackson shows convincingly that his subject’s final downfall was caused by a dishonest, politically motivated land survey, but one suspects that certain obvious character faults — arrogance, litigiousness, self-righteous stubborn­ ness, and a striking inner need to connive — helped bring him down in this and other instances. The truth is, Henry Dalton was a gambler, and if he “won big” at times, inevitably he “lost big” at others. Although he never held important public office, Dalton was intimately associated with many prominent Californians of both Mexican and American eras, as this book shows. Dr. Jackson’s painstaking research, especially in the Huntington Library’s Dalton Collection, throws much light on the relation­ ships between these people, Mexican, American, and British. This volume is the 17th in Clark’s “Western Frontiersmen Series,” which associates such unlikely subjects as John D. Lee, Ben Holladay, and J. Ross Browne. Thanks to Sheldon Jackson, Henry Dalton holds his own in their company. ARTHUR FRIETZSCHE, San Luis Obispo The Texans. By James Conaway. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. 262 pages, $8.95.) The thesis of James Conaway’s The Texans is that a small group of multi-millionaires run the state and exercise a strong influence in national politics. Known as the Texas Establishment, the group is represented by John Connally, H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, Lloyd Bentsen, and H. Ross Perot. Most of them, with Bentsen as a notable exception, are self-made. All of them have, in one version or another, a Texas personality, an easy country manner and a will of iron. They came from poverty, dreamed of an empire, and made one. They like oil and gas, cattle, military contracts, banking, business in general, and they usually own stock in one another’s corporations. They assume power quickly and naturally, and they play politics the way a master plays poker: some times they are bluffing, but call their hand, and they will beat you, cold. John Connally is featured. Born in poverty, in the small town of Floresville, Connally once lost a high school debate,although he was the better debator. The “superintendent of the schools was beholden to the district judge,” the judge was the father of Connally’s opponent, and young John never forgot it. According to Conawav, “Those who know Connally well say he determined to win everything from then on.” 98 Western American Literature Later, as a college student with no money, family, or special achieve­ ments to recommend him, Connally made himself available to Lyndon Johnson’s campaign for Congress. He “hung around the office, stuffing envelopes and running errands, and displaying an uncommon poise and assertiveness for a college student.” As a result, Johnson asked Connally to go to Washington, where the young debator made a name for himself as an unofficial lobbyist. Within a very short time, he had helped the oil-gascattle -banking powers of Texas, earned an $800,000 fee as executor of the Richardson estate, and established himself as a power in Texas and in the nation. The rest are variations on a theme. Sid Richardson was the champion wildcatter. H. L. Hunt started with a wagon for hire, bought some entangled oil leases — which turned out to be one of the richest fields in Texas — and made a fortune. Perot quit a clerical job and talked a bank into financing a different type of wildcatting: he wanted to buy computer time wholesale and sell it retail, and he made a fortune doing it. Conaway is a good story-teller, and he makes it all very interesting. I don’t know how to make a scholarly evaluation of Conaway’s accuracy (much of his book is based on interviews) without repeating his research; but my guess is that his chapter on the University of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 97-98
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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