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Book Reviews Jesús F. de la Teja, Editor PassionateNation: TheEpicHistory ofTexas. ByJames L. Haley. (NewYork: Free Press, 2006. Pp. 654. Acknowledgments, illustrations, selected sources, index. ISBN 0684862913. $35.00, cloth.) This volume is a general history ofTexas bya popularwriter-historian who hopes readers will conclude "it is accurate as far as it goes, and that they enjoyed reading it" (p. xviii). It is presented in five parts, each divided into several short chapters. An opening section that ranges from the early 1500s to 182 1 is devoted primarily to Spanish explorers and settlers. Their interactions with Indians, French explorers and traders, Anglo American frontiersmen; and the Mexican war ofindependence provide the major themes. The second part focuses on the short but complex era from the early colonies of empresarios in the 1820s to the successful revolution against Mexico in 1836. Growing tensions, primarily between Anglo setders and the Mexican government; important leaders; and military events dominate these pages. Following in a third grouping are chapters considering the Republic ofTexas, early statehood, and the Civil War and Reconstruction from 1 836 to 1 874. Political conflicts, diplomacy, military clashes, and struggles over economic and social changes fill these pages. The next section recounts the removal of the Plains Indians and the buffalo; the expansion of ranching; new political patterns; and cultural changes from 1875 to 1900. The twentieth century is encompassed in a final collection of chapters that describe the oil industry and economic changes; political battles and ethnic tensions ; world wars; and social trends. Devoting two-thirds of the pages to the nineteendi century, which is more than in any other recent history ofTexas, seems an overemphasis. Haley, the author ofan award-winning biography ofSam Houston and earlier volumes on Texas history, has taken on a daunting task. Histories of a state or nation often are written by a group ofauthors because the range oftopics and sources is monumental. He has read widely and presents a better-balanced picture than earlier popular histories of Texas regarding the diverse ethnic groups, economic interests, and political viewpoints that have shaped the state. Along with its strengths, this volume has some limitations. It includes wellchosen illustrations, but the volume lacks maps. The decision not to include an opening chapter on Texas Indians that would present their cultures and beliefs 88Southwestern Historical QuarterlyJuly more fully opens the way for some misunderstanding. A colorful narrative, for example, leads to several mentions of cannibalism that exaggerate its frequency without a clear explanation ofits ritual nature. The economic importance ofslavery is noted, and its significance as a political issue is discussed.Yet the lives ofslaves and their diverse responses to their enslavement receive little attention, although they formed 30 percent of the population in i860. The views of Plains Indians as they were forced onto reservations in the 1870s are more fully explored, however, as are African American efforts to overcome discrimination in post-Reconstruction years. Occasionally uiere are confusing statements; for example a sick Bowie is described as "not a factor thereafter" at the Alamo on p. 145. Yet when the Mexican army arrived at San Antonio, Bowie sent a message to Santa Anna asking about a parley on p. 154. Some overstatements also appear, such as die casualties of the Mexican army at the Alamo. Social life and culture receive attention in each section of the volume, but discussion of social life seems more limited in the twentieth century with little comment on music. For these reasons readers seeking more analyses of some events may also wish to see other recent histories ofTexas. Haley's writing is lively and filled with colorful stories as well as sharply drawn biographical sketches. The tone of his volume is usually informal and sometimes irreverent. Thus Passionate Nation is likely to attract a wide audience. Texas Tech UniversityAlwyn Barr Empires oftheAtlantic World: Britain and Spain inAmerica, 1492-1830. ByJ. H. Elliott. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. Pp. 568. Illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 03001 1431 1. $35.00, clotfi.) Contingency and serendipity are some of the words that first come to mind to describeJohn Elliott's Empires oftheAtlantic World, the latest in a long list of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 87-88
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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