- Texas: An Illustrated History
Hippocrene Books is a press noted for publishing inexpensive cookbooks, folklore, translations, and a series of illustrated state histories. John Perry, a speech professor at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, wrote the history of Texas for the series. Although the book follows a common periodization, he reduces the events past 1900 to less than one-third of the material.
The author provides no endnotes to indicate the source of quotations. Did President Eisenhower who was born in Denison really say, "Where's Texas?" when he signed the Tidelands Bill (169)? Did an unnamed former slave say he worked from "can't see to can't see" when the folk expression is "can see to can't see?" (71)? Citations for quotations force discipline into writing so that an author could not randomly place General Sheridan's famous 1855 statement about renting Texas and living in hell into a discussion about Reconstruction.
From front to back and in between there are numerous niggling errors. In the third sentence of the narrative, for example, Texas is said incorrectly to have 265 counties, not 254, and on the back cover the name of the Alamo hero is spelled, "Davie," not "Davy." The biggest problem, however, is omission. Events lack explanation. [End Page 322] How can the Republican takeover of Texas politics be examined, like it or not, without mention of John Tower or more than one sentence about George W. Bush? The black and white illustrations are often unclear and lack meaningful captions.
The advantage of the book is its cheap price, the lowest on the Amazon market, but use of the volume for historical or teaching purposes is hazardous.