Beginning his narrative with the very first human settlers to come to what is now Texas "in pursuit of animals such as the mammoth," but largely focusing on 19th and 20th century history, Campbell (history, U. of North Texas) presents an essentially political history of the "Lone Star State." Specificities of Texas history, particularly the "Revolution" that resulted in its annexation from Mexico by the United States are discussed alongside the impact of wider national and global events, such as the Civil War and the Great Depression. Annotation ©2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Anyone who believes that the history of Texas is written only in tub-thumping braggadocio will quickly be set straight by this superb history of the Lone Star State. A leading historian of Texas (Sam Houston and the American Southwest, etc.), Campbell writes with authority and clarity about one of the nation's most distinctive components. His thoroughly contemporary approach sets early Texas history firmly within the checkered development of Mexico and keeps African-Americans, both slave and free, as well as native tribes at the center of his story. His coverage of such matters as the Texas Revolution, the state's 10 years as an independent republic and the cattle business are models of their kind, and surely no one has written so well while so briefly about how Texas became Southern. Because much of the book is spent on the state's lively political history, however, there may not be enough about Texas society (and certainly not about the state's complex, mixed culture) to satisfy some readers. What's best about the book and what will make it attractive beyond Texas borders is Campbell's healthy skepticism about claims that Texas is unique among the states. He's also critical where criticism is clearly warranted, such as when arraigning "the general lack of concern for civil rights that characterized the state's politics after the 1870s." Campbell shows an unusual ability to judge people in 21st-century terms without losing sight of the long-ago context of their acts. A dividend for readers is the book's unusually good maps and diagrams. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.