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Captain James A. Baker, Houston lawyer, banker, and businessman, received an alarming telegram on September 23, 1900: his elderly millionaire client William Marsh Rice had died unexpectedly in New York City. Baker rushed to New York, where he unraveled a plot to murder Rice and plunder his estate. Working tirelessly with local authorities, Baker saved Rice’s fortune from more than one hundred claimants; he championed the wishes of his deceased client and founded Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art—today’s internationally acclaimed Rice University. ?For fifty years Captain Baker nurtured Rice’s dream. He partnered with leading lawyers to create Houston’s first nationally recognized law firm: Baker, Botts, Lovett & Parker, now the worldwide legal practice of Baker Botts L.L.P. He chartered several Houston businesses and utility companies, developed two major regional banks, promoted real estate projects, and led an active civic life. To expand the Institute’s endowment, Baker invested William Marsh Rice’s fortune with local entrepreneurs, who were building homes, office towers, commercial enterprises, and institutions that transformed Houston from a small town in the nineteenth century to an international powerhouse in the twenty-first century. ?Author Kate Sayen Kirkland explored the archival records of Baker and his family and firm and carefully mined the archives of Baker’s contemporaries. Published as part of Rice University’s centennial celebration, Captain James A. Baker of Houston, 1857–1941 weaves together the history of Houston and the story of an influential man who labored all his life to make Houston a world-class city.
West Point since 1902
The United States Military Academy at West Point is one of America’s oldest and most revered institutions. Founded in 1802, its first and only mission is to prepare young men—and, since 1976, young women—to be leaders of character for service as commissioned officers in the United States Army. West Point’s success in accomplishing that mission has secured its reputation as the foremost leadership-development institution in the world. An Academy promotional poster says it this way: “At West Point, much of the history we teach was made by people we taught.” Carved from Granite is the story of how West Point goes about producing military leaders of character. An opening chapter on the Academy’s nineteenth-century history provides context for the topic of each subsequent chapter. As scholar and Academy graduate Lance Betros shows, West Point’s early history is interesting and colorful, but its history since then is far more relevant to the issues—and problems—that face the Academy today. Drawing from oral histories, archival sources, and his own experiences as a cadet and, later, a faculty member, Betros describes and assesses how well West Point has accomplished its mission. And, while West Point is an impressive institution in many ways, Betros does not hesitate to expose problems and challenge long-held assumptions. In a concluding chapter that is both subjective and interpretive, the author offers his prescriptions for improving the institution, focusing particularly on the areas of governance, admissions, and intercollegiate athletics. Photographs, tables, charts, and other graphics aid the clarity of the discussion and lend visual and historical interest. Carved from Granite: West Point since 1902 is the most authoritative history of the modern United States Military Academy written to date. There will be lively debate over some of the observations made in this book, but if they are followed, the author asserts that the Academy will emerge stronger and better able to accomplish its vital mission in the new century and beyond.
The Journey of Captain Michael J. Daly, World War II Medal of Honor Recipient
A privileged, hell-raising youth who had greatly embarrassed his family—and especially his war-hero father—by being dismissed from West Point, Michael J. Daly would go on to display selfless courage and heroic leadership on the battlefields of Europe during World War II. Starting as an enlisted man and rising through the ranks to become a captain and company commander, Daly’s devotion to his men and his determination to live up to the ideals taught to him by his father led him to extraordinary acts of bravery on behalf of others, resulting in three Silver Stars, a Bronze Star with “V” attachment for valor, two Purple Hearts, and finally, the Medal of Honor. Historian Stephen J. Ochs mined archives and special collections and conducted numerous personal interviews with Daly, his family and friends, and the men whom he commanded and with whom he served. The result is a carefully constructed, in-depth portrait of a warrior-hero who found his life’s deepest purpose, both during and after the war, in selfless service to others. After a period of post-war drift, Daly finally escaped the “hero’s cage” and found renewed purpose through family and service. He became a board member at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he again assumed the role of defender and guardian by championing the cause of the indigent poor and the terminally ill, earning the sobriquet, “conscience of the hospital.” A Cause Greater than Self: The Journey of Captain Michael J. Daly, World War II Medal of Honor Recipient is at once a unique, father-son wartime saga, a coming-of-age narrative, and the tale of a heroic man’s struggle to forge a new and meaningful postwar life. Daly’s story also highlights the crucial role played by platoon and company infantry officers in winning both major battles like those on D-Day and in lesser-known campaigns such as those of the Colmar Pocket and in south-central Germany, further reinforcing the debt that Americans owe to them—especially those whose selfless courage merited the Medal of Honor.
Unearthing Deep South Narratives from a Texas Graveyard
Growing up as the daughter of a funeral director in Fort Bend County, Texas, Marie Theresa Hernández was a frequent visitor to the San Isidro Cemetery, a burial place for Latino workers at the Imperial Sugar Company, based in nearby Sugar Land. During these years she acquired from her father and mother a sense of what it was like to live as an ethnic minority in Jim Crow Texas. Therefore, returning to the cemetery as an ethnographer offered Hernández a welcome opportunity to begin piecing together a narrative of the lives and struggles of the Mexican American community that formed her heritage. However, Hernández soon realized that San Isidro contained hidden depths. The cemetery was built on the former grounds of an old slave-owning plantation. Her story quickly burgeoned from one of immigrant laborers working the land of the giant sugar company to one of the slave laborers who had worked the sugar plantations decades before, but whose history had been largely wiped out of the narrative of the affluent, white-majority county. Much like an archeologist, Hernández began carefully brushing away layers of time to reveal the fragile, entombed remnants of a complex, unknown past. A professional photographer as well as a scholar, Hernández provides visual images to spur the reader’s imagination and anchor the narrative in historical reality. She mines interviews, newspaper accounts, and other primary sources—interpreted through her own rich sense of place and time—to reconstruct the identity of a community where the Old South, the wealthy New South, and the culture from south of the border all comingle to form an almost iconic symbol for today’s America. In this complex and nuanced, self-reflexive ethnography, Hernández interweaves personal memory and group history, ethnic experience and class . . . even death and life.
The Legacy of Coach Buryl Baty
Implications of Addressing or Ignoring the Texas Challenge
Good and Evil in a War Hospital, 1943-1945
As chaplain for the US Army's 102nd Evacuation Hospital in the European Theater, Renwick C. Kennedy--"Ren" to those who knew him--witnessed great courage, extreme talent, and many lives snatched from the precipice of death, all under the most trying conditions. He also observed drug and alcohol abuse, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and chronic depression. What he saw, he chronicled in his journal, and what he wrote, he processed with an intellectual and ethical rigor born of his remarkably sophisticated worldview and his deeply held Christian faith. With Kennedy's war diaries and postwar articles published in Christian Century and Time magazines in front of him, historian Tennant McWilliams spent a year retracing every step, every turn, every location of the 102nd in wartime France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, compiling rich detail on this episode in Kennedy's life. McWilliams's interviews with citizens of France and Luxembourg who recall the 102nd further revealed local people's reactions to the army hospital that illuminated both Kennedy's severe criticism and his enduring praise for evac life. The result is a candid view of what went on in the World War II evac hospitals. With a nuanced and gritty style, The Chaplain's Conflict shatters the self-interested and sometimes sentimental images of evacs held by some among the medical community. This complex and compelling observation of doctors practicing war-zone medicine in World War II will hold great appeal for readers of military and medical history, as well as those interested in the socio-cultural, ethical, and religious implications of war and military service.
How We Judge America's Presidents
WATERGATE. MONICA LEWINSKY. PAINKILLERS IN THE OVAL OFFICE. IRAN-CONTRA. READ MY LIPS. THE CHARACTER FACTOR. The American president’s character matters. To most Americans, it matters deeply. But how do we define what character means, and why can’t we agree? In this sober, probing consideration of “the character factor” and the presidency, veteran political analyst James P. Pfiffner leads us through a survey of three aspects of presidential character that have proved problematic for recent chief executives: lies, promise-keeping, and sexual probity. His goal is not to tell us which presidents have been “good” and which “bad.” Rather, he helps us think critically and impartially about complex character issues and invites us to reach our own conclusions. The Character Factor avoids both the abyss of moral relativism and the desert of political cynicism. It helps us look at our presidents (and our presidential candidates) without illusions, knowing that flawed men can still be great leaders but that some flaws deserve defeat at the polls—or even the ultimate presidential sanction, impeachment.
Texas Ranger Norman K. Dixon
Activism in the Community
Much of the history of Mexican American educational reform efforts has focused on campaigns to eliminate discrimination in public schools. However, as historian Guadalupe San Miguel demonstrates in Chicana/o Struggles for Education: Activisim in the Community, the story is much broader and more varied than that.
While activists certainly challenged discrimination, they also worked for specific public school reforms and sought private schooling opportunities, utilizing new patterns of contestation and advocacy. In documenting and reviewing these additional strategies, San Miguel’s nuanced overview and analysis offers enhanced insight into the quest for equal educational opportunity to new generations of students.
San Miguel addresses questions such as what factors led to change in the 1960s and in later years; who the individuals and organizations were that led the movements in this period and what motivated them to get involved; and what strategies were pursued, how they were chosen, and how successful they were. He argues that while Chicana/o activists continued to challenge school segregation in the 1960s as earlier generations had, they broadened their efforts to address new concerns such as school funding, testing, English-only curricula, the exclusion of undocumented immigrants, and school closings. They also advocated cultural pride and memory, inclusion of the Mexican American community in school governance, and opportunities to seek educational excellence in private religious, nationalist, and secular schools.
The profusion of strategies has not erased patterns of de facto segregation and unequal academic achievement, San Miguel concludes, but it has played a key role in expanding educational opportunities. The actions he describes have expanded, extended, and diversified the historic struggle for Mexican American education.