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2oogBook Reviews261 town's inhabitants included a considerable number of so-called rowdy loafers, many of whom were unemployed veterans of die Texas Revolution. The opposite end of the spectrum—referred to by some as "the virtuous part of the community "—consisted ofresidents such as a sanctimonious newspaper editor who championedJones 's conviction and execution, a former Texas governor who presided atJones's trial, and a well-educated lawyer who, some years after robbingJones's shallow grave, would become the richest man in Texas. Hardin leaves no doubt that the interests and interactions of the city's varied population made Houston a dangerous and tremendously exciting place. Chapter six returns to Jones and takes the reader through the felon's crime, trial, and hanging, as well as die subsequent macabre mutilation of his corpse. The numerous primary and secondary materials referenced in thirty pages of endnotes and a fourteen-page bibliography reflect the meticulous research that makes Hardin's work particularly convincing. In addition, several aspects of his book make it especially readable and enjoyable. First, Hardin enhances his considerable storytelling ability with a breezy, witty writing style that accomplishes his stated intention "to get past the academic vernacular [and] write a book someone would want to read" (xvii). Second, to help readers remember the order and context of events, he includes an extensive chronology that begins before Jones arrives in Texas and ends more than a year after the hanging. Finally, superb penand -ink drawings by Gary S. Zaboly, together with a judicious number of photographs , portraits, maps, and diagrams, help give readers a mental image of the people and events the author describes. All scholars and general readers with an interest in the Republic of Texas should read Texian Macabre. Not only will they acquire a better understanding and appreciation of die people who inhabited that short-lived nation, they will enjoy doing so. Austin Community CollegeOwen L. Roberts Feast orFamine: Food and Drink in American Westward Expansion. By Reginald Horsman . (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008. Pp. 366. Illustrations, notes, index. ISBN g78o8262i78gg, $3g.g5 cloth.) Reginald Horsman's Feast orFamine: Food and Drink in American Westward Expansion weaves a compendium of historical vignettes—all related to food and drink— into a tale ofabundance and deprivation (but mosdy abundance). The white men and women who provide the foundation for Horsman's account had at least two things in common besides the lighter hue of their skin: diey were on the go and they had a predilection for culinary memoirs. Horsman skillfully organizes his data both topically and chronologically around these vivid accounts, thus simultaneously providing a gastronomic narration of nineteenth-century westering while capturing the dietary distinctions evident in multiple venues ranging from mining camps to cattle ranches to makeshift outposts on die Oregon Trail. Insofar as the book aims to provide a careful and systematic explication of food-related themes buried in relatively obscure published documents, it succeeds. 262Southwestern Historical QuarterlyOctober From other perspectives, however, Feast orFamine is less successful. Horsman's evident talent for rooting through sources to compile hundreds of anecdotes is counterbalanced by a conspicuous lack ofanalysis or sustained attention to current historiography. Environmental historians will righdy lament Horsman's refusal to situate the agricultural transformations he mentions—forest clearing, prairie breaking, irrigation, and commercial game hunting—in an ecological framework . Historians of the borderlands will bristle at the book's embrace of a heroic Turnerian thesis with scant attention paid to the "middle ground" complexities of edinic and racial interaction. Historians attuned to rhetorical tropes will be left frustrated by the way in which Horsman takes his travel narratives at face value, presumably uninterested in interrogating them as documents constructed by the era's literary modes. These complaints have some justification. When Horsman mentions that a traveler in Wyoming "saw anodier new feature of western life—the Chinese," he merely notes diat the Chinese "were the main labor force on the western stretch of the transcontinental railroad." (145) Their cultural, much less their culinary, role in the simmering ethnic stew of the West goes unmentioned. When he notes how "the best days of roaming the central Rockies to trap beaver were over...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 261-262
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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