Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 3, Summer 2009, pp. 248-249
"Given such a large body of scholarship," editors John W. Storey and Mary L. Kelley admit, "another study of Texas seems hardly necessary." Nevertheless, they contend, Twentieth Century Texas: A Social and Cultural History (a collection of fifteen essays) fills a weakness in the Lone Star State's history bibliography, arguing that social and cultural subjects have received "short shrift" in survey texts. Moreover, Storey and Kelly justify their volume because "it focuses solely on the past century, bringing the story up-to-date."
All students of Texas's past will enjoy this collection. Summary histories of Mexican Texans, blacks, women, literature, education, and cinema are worthwhile for those beginning their study of twentieth-century Texas. For more knowledgeable students, the collection introduces topics they can pursue in articles or books by the same authors. For example, Kelley ("Private Wealth, Public Good: Texans and Philanthropy") and Ralph A. Wooster ("Over Here: Texans on the Home Front") have written books on these themes.
Teachers will find Twentieth-Century Texas useful as a source of information and a stimulus for new classroom topics. Perhaps the most beneficial article for lecture details is Storey's compilation of data on Texans' religious diversity in "Pagodas amid the Steeples: The Changing Religious Landscape." Michael R. Grauer's "Wider Than the Limits of Our State: Texas Art in the Twentieth Century" synthesizes the essentials on an understudied subject. Gary Hartman's "From Yellow Roses to Dixie Chicks: Women and Gender in Texas Music History" suggests an entertaining and informative lesson (just add music). On the other hand, the book's bulk (480 pages) means Twentieth Century Texas is not a narrow reader helpful as a supplement to a textbook.