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BOOK REVIEWS269 sent one quarter of the text, leaving less than 200 pages for the book's argument.) Certainly all this is useful and often enlightening, but the overall impression is one of disappointment. South Carolina in recent years has been the focus of some extraordinary scholarship—Sirmans, Freehling, Channing, Rose—and as a result one's expectation has become perhaps unreasonably high. The works of Freehling and Channing are especially relevant, for they predispose the reader to expect trenchant discussions of feelings of crisis, paranoia, and guilt. The more general works of TindaII and Gaston have made us attune to the role of myth and its creation. The pioneering efforts of Henry Nash Smith and John W. Ward, along with William R. Taylor and others, have shown how sophisticated analysis of myths, political rhetoric, and literature can offer penetrating insight into the culture of a given time or place. The biographical approach can reveal the subtle nuances and intellectual tensions which characterize a society. It is in this context that Wakelyn's book seems to fail. It is simply not sufficient to say that "Whether Simms was forced to conform or whether he helped to create an aura of conformity in the South is not a viable question," (p. xii) when one ultimately concludes that "Dedicated and myopic to the end, he died as he had lived, in a romantic haze of his own propaganda of self-deception" (p. 264). I do not mean to say that Wakelyn ignores such matters, for he does mention them. But the book never in a central way addresses itself to uncovering the reasons for such self-deception. How was it possible? What did such propagandistic defensiveness suggest about both the society of which Simms was a part and his own innerself? What kinds of fears and worries do his nostalgia, romanticism, and defensive fervor mask? How truly representative was he? Did he more shape or lead the secessionist sentiment? Again, Wakelyn does acknowledge these topics, and even discusses them to varying degrees, but the book never transcends its prosaic treatment of the "intellectual's place in politics" (p. xi) to achieve the kind of illuminative analysis it might have been. It is a disappointment but not a failure. John B. Boles Towson State College Samuel Bell Maxey: A Biography. By Louise Horton. (Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1974. Pp. 222. $10.00.) The politics of redemption in Texas were tumultuous but they were mostly inward directed. Gone from the scene were the great leaders of the Republic and first statehood, and national leaders such as House, Garner, Burleson were still youths or unborn. In the half-century between , a number of Texas political leaders played important but often unnoticed roles in the nation's development. Even at home these men were sometimes unknown, save by the other political activists. A good 270CIVIL WAR HISTORY case in point is Samuel Bell Maxey, first redeemer senator from Texas. Despite the important role played by Maxey as a Confederate brigadier -general and as two-term senator, no biography of him has seen print until now. Louise Horton's study is largely devoted to Maxey's post-war political career. His birth and background in the Pennyrile region of Kentucky , migration to Texas, West Point education, and Mexican and Civil War experiences take less than one quarter of the book, and the remainder is devoted to his political activity in Reconstruction and to his two terms in the Senate, 1875-1887. Maxey was an able representative of his state's interests. Although not a polished speaker in his early career, he improved as he went about the business of making contacts and establishing himself in the power business in Washington. His correspondence notes with evident vanity his increasing ability to engineer favorable legislation, block bills he did not like, and secure appointments for political allies. In general policy he was for harbor improvement (witness federal funds expended at Galveston), opposed to large federal aid to railroads and education, favored tariff reform to help southern consumers, and advocated the free coinage of silver to help debtors. One explanation for the latter position was that Maxey...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 269-271
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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