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Maurice A. Rhodes
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
There are two levels on which one can read this exhaustive sociological account of the Lone Star State. The first is from the viewpoint of a scholar, the second is from the view of a person interested in 'what it is and how it got that way'. I am definitely the latter and in no way qualified to criticize on scholarly grounds this well-documented, statistically impressive and detailed plod through the years. A word on sociology: while my education included statistics and history, I never studied sociology or its rationale, and never considered it a science, other than the careful methodology with which a study of human activities might be carried out and analysed - and "Rough Country certainly satisfies that constraint! My readings of several of this kind of study finds them, for the most part very accurate as to content, usually well-researched and documented. But I am not so sure as to their predictive value. But one thing is certain: this type of analysis would be gold for those planning political campaigns in the specific areas dealt with. Nevertheless, the book is well written without too much difficulty for a layman except on some technical points and scholarly jargon - even they are usually explained. And given that, the book is a credit to the author'
The reader might ask `then why would I be attracted to such a book and buy it for my Kindle Reader?'
I had just finished reading or viewing some Amazon items: Michener's "Texas", Edna Ferber's "Big Giant", (and watched the movie where Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor portray the wealthy Texans. And let's not forget that one-upon- a-time tragic hero of the silver screen, James Dean, all of whom turned in stellar performances. Believe it or not, I missed the movie and the book years ago when I was busy doing other things. But each of these epics failed to tell the whole story that presented my eyes on previous visits to Texas and the South, so I was hungry for something academically supportable. "Rough Country " must surely be that.
"Rough Country" tells the history, warts and all, of the sociological makeup and history of Texas. While I was aware to the so-called Bible Belt and had on business occasions visited Texas and other places in the Florida Panhandle and Alabama, I was limited in my specific knowledge of the history of Texas, other than from movies (the Alamo, the Battle of San Jacinto), and histories of explorations of south-west America, both by the Spanish and others. But I should have had a clue when, in amplification of reading "Giant", I went to a biography of Edna Ferber. I read that while novel was generally well received elsewhere, it certainly was not in Texas.
Some of what the movie and the book fail to touch is the specific history of slaves in Texas and their future afterwards. Nor was I aware of the detail of how Hispanics were treated, other than as depicted in "Giant". It is now obvious from the detail contained in "Rough Country" that the scene could be just that: probably well known are the stories of cowpokes and cattle drives and how sudden oil discoveries converted poverty stricken rednecks into millionaires (like the part James Dean played in "Giant").
The story of the fundamentalist movement, which is the real meat of "Rough Country", is also more than informative. Texas was truly rough in its origins, at first lawless and later a people proud of their gun-toting independence - a friend witnessed the display of a pistol by a lady during a discussion of self defence!
I was taught to accept only indisputable (preferably scientific), evidence and deal with it by reason, Both of the main Protestant churches (Southern Baptist and Southern Methodist) however are faith-based, i.e. reliant that the scriptual word is divinely inspired and virtually the word of God. They are also informed (or I should say, influenced) by the consequences of the Civil War, Reconstruction and finally the legal demands of the Civil Rights legislation, starting with Truman and on to Robert Kennedy, and then finally put into action by L.B. Johnson. Anyone, even though not a Texan or an American, can be affected by the sad and morally painful story in "Rough Country": how African-Americans were generally misused, mistreated and sometimes lynched without due process, and why the above mentioned churches often stood silent.
It is also understandable how a fundamentalist society could be either apprehensive or strengthened in regard to a rapidly growing Roman Catholic Mexican advance into Texas, either by legal immigration or illegally as a "wet-backs" - to the degree that those churches could find common cause for some issues, such as abortion and homosexual marriage, but opposition on others (prohibition).
An anomaly difficult to accept but which is thoroughly dealt with in "Rough Country": on one hand to say in effect `Oh, we can't talk about that because of `separation of church and state', but on the other claim the rights of free speech when they wanted to preach or publish on divisive issues, such as prohibition and its repeal (18th and 21st Amendments) a position we take because of the separation of church and state!
I found "Rough Country" a slow read, but then it really informed me about Texas; it was an education on the realities of life in the Lone Star State then and now.