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BOOK REVIEWS263 remained untapped and stimulate other historians to raise questions that Johnston has not. Patricia Hickin Virginia State Library Blacks in America: Bibliographical Essays. By James M. McPherson, Laurence B. Holland, James M. Banner, Nancy J. Weiss, Michael D. Bell. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971. Pp. xxii, 430. $8.95.) For scholars interested in one or more of the disciplines subsumed under "Black Studies," few works are likely to be as indispensable as this volume. The five authors-compilers—three historians and two students of American literature—have expanded bibliographies originally developed for an interdepartmental seminar on "The Negro in America" offered at Princeton in 1966, 1968 and 1970. In the published version, they have arranged more than 4000 titles into 100 topics ranging from "The African Background" to "The Black Panthers" and from "The Figure of the Black in English Renaissance Drama" to "Afro-Americans in Films." Each topic begins with one or more paragraphs presenting essential factual or descriptive information, followed by further commentary —generally historiographical—interwoven into the bibliographical listings themselves. Although the authors maintain that their work combines narration with interpretation, they are clearly more successful with the second task. Moreover, many readers will quibble with particular judgments or wish that certain topics were more fully developed. (For instance, Africanists may feel they have been given half-a-loaf, while those historians interested in the antebellum black experience in Canada may also be disappointed. ) Despite these caveats, this volume is immensely useful. The sheer utility of these essays, however, raises important questions: Should five talented scholars (aided by several others) give their time and abilities to compiling and perhaps later up-dating such a work? Would it not be feasible for a bibliographical endeavor of this sort to be computerized by developing a system which would absorb new works as they are published while continuing to store annotated information on older material? Until such a system is established, further editions of Blacks in America will be imperative. Floyd J. Miller Hiram College Finance and Economic Development in the Old South: Louisiana Banking, 1804-1861. By George D. Green. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1972. Pp. xiii, 268. $8.75.) Most historians do not take great delight in reading works in economic 264civil war history history, particularly if they are written by the so-called "new economic historians." Most of these latter books are not meant to be read but to be calculated. If one's calculus has slipped into some obscure fold of the brain, these scientific studies are largely incomprehensible. Moreover , their conclusions, particularly when dealing with the period before the Civil War, based as they frequently are on imperfect and random aggregate statistics, and rooted in sophisticated mathematical extrapolations , projections, and static theoretical models, must be viewed with suspicion. It is a pleasure, then, to recommend Professor Green's study of Louisiana banking to those who would both appreciate a closely argued and superbly documented empirical-theoretical treatment of the relationship between finance and banking and economic development and extract themselves from the influence of Bray Hammond 's oversimplifications and biases. This book is not easy to read but neither is the subject matter easy to handle. Professor Green, trained as both an economist and an historian , moves deftly between theory and fact, between models and the real world. What I take as the primary thesis—that the banking system of Louisiana before 1837 and during the 1850's contributed directly and forcefully to economic development—is substantiated by precise analyses of how banking increased the productivity of existing capital, raised the supply of savings, and improved the allocation of savings between alternative investments. While Green demonstrates that the antebellum banking system was a substantial cause of economic instability , he concludes that the banks of New Orleans influenced the economy as a whole toward its optimal pattern of development. Green's approach is to summarize current theoretical approaches to a variety of problems, the quandary of the banks in attempting to reconcile the public's demand for both easy credit and sound money, for example, and then to evaluate the usefulness of the theory in explaining what actually happened. One of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 263-265
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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