In Gone to Texas, historian Randolph Campbell ranges from the first arrival of humans in the Panhandle some 10,000 years ago to the dawn of the twenty-first century, offering an interpretive account of the land, the successive waves of people who have gone to Texas, and the conflicts that have made Texas as much a metaphor as a place. Campbell ...
In Gone to Texas, historian Randolph Campbell ranges from the first arrival of humans in the Panhandle some 10,000 years ago to the dawn of the twenty-first century, offering an interpretive account of the land, the successive waves of people who have gone to Texas, and the conflicts that have made Texas as much a metaphor as a place. Campbell presents the epic tales of Texas history in a new light, offering revisionist history in the best sense--broadening and deepening the traditional story, without ignoring the heroes of the past. The scope of the book is impressive. It ranges from the archeological record of early Native Americans to the rise of the oil industry and ultimately the modernization of Texas. Campbell provides swift-moving accounts of the Mexican revolution against Spain, the arrival of settlers from the United States, and the lasting Spanish legacy (from place names to cattle ranching to civil law). The author also paints a rich portrait of the Anglo-Texan revolution, with its larger-than-life leaders and epic battles, the fascinating decade of the Republic of Texas, and annexation by the United States. In his account of the Civil War and Reconstruction, he examines developments both in local politics and society and in the nation at large (from the debate over secession to the role of Texas troops in the Confederate army to the impact of postwar civil rights laws). Late nineteenth-century Texas is presented as part of both the Old West and the New South. The story continues with an analysis of the impact of the Populist and Progressive movements and then looks at the prosperity decade of the 1920s and the economic disaster of the Great Depression. Campbell's last chapters show how World War II brought economic recovery and touched off spectacular growth that, with only a few downturns, continues until today. Lucid, engaging, deftly written, Gone to Texas offers a fresh understanding of why Texas continues to be seen as a state unlike any other, a place that distills the essence of what it means to be an American.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-26 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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