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keep reading. The publisher is Oxford University Press, which fact alone suggests that Gone differs greatly from Lone. London-based Oxford is famous for printing serious, definitive books about this or that big subjectbooks you can line up next to the hoary dictionary of the same name, and use as reference works. An Oxford book may coddle lay readers with a paucity of footnotes, but it will include a staunch bibliography. Yes, Virginia, it will seem like some teacher’s required reading. Yet it will also be expert and punctilious enough to contain information you didn’t know, and you may get very fired up about instances of human goodness or badness that you didn’t know before. Still, Oxford books are measured, judicious, staid. Seldom will you read one for pure excitement. Instead, you’re probably taking a class and have to write a paper. That’s kind of what Campbell’s book is like. Even his title seems like a sop to schoolmarms. “Gone to Texas” used to get abbreviated “GTT” and written on abandoned homesteads in the South. Leading off with the phrase is supposed to keep readers thinking about how Texas has always been a magnet for immigrants, beginning with the Native Americans. True, but it’s hard to imagine a Karankawa writing GTT on a teepee, or for that matter a 21st-century obrero from Monterrey writing it on a jacal before he pays the coyote to get him past the migra. Campbell’s conceit seems Fehrenbachian, which in this case is to say, market-oriented. As does his surfeit of “SpanishTexas” and “Texas Revolution” maps \(What’s with maps and But Gone to Texas isn’t boring! You just have to be in the right mood, especially if you’re not currently matriculated. In this case the mood is, “Shit, I am a thoughtful adult and the Alamo happened almost 170 years ago, and I know things have occurred in this state since then besides cattle drives and Spindletop, but what the hell were they and how can I read about them all in one place without feeling like I’m back in seventh grade being tested on the spelling of ‘Llano Estacado’? Besides, I just read Michael Lind’s Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics. It’s a roller coaster ride, and I want to double check his facts when he argues that Texas is a pre-Civil War Southern culture and President George W. Bush has the political-economic mentality of a slave holder. And then there’s that weird new Alamo movie that’s got all the historians in an uproar.” If you ever get in this frame of mind, you will like Campbell’s book just fine. In fact, the most illuminating aspect of Gone to Texas is its take on the state as Southern rather than Western. Campbell should know: He is also author of a brilliant earlier book, An Empire for Slavery. It opens by noting how almost a third of the population of antebellum Texas was black chattel: a proportion equal to that of Virginia. Then, much as Claude Lanzman’s Shoah used endless, boring Nazi railroad manifests to demonstrate the transport of human freight to the camps, Empire employs moldering Texas county courthouse records to make a devastating case that 19th-century Texas slave owners rented out or sold their property, then used the proceeds to pay for their kids’ private educationwhile blacks A curse lurks behind the scholarly press dilemma: the curse of T.R. Fehrenbach, an elderly military vet and former insurance agent in San Antonio who smokes rank cigars, engages in secret, communal rituals every year at the Alamo, and jeers at books by the jealous revisionists. remained illiterate. Now, in Gone to Texas, Campbell notes that by the 1850s, three out of four Texas families were Southern-born, and many owned slaves. How had they gotten this merchandise into Texas after 1827, when Mexico outlawed the peculiar institution? As Campbell describes it, immigrants from places like Tennessee and Alabama simply had their slaves sign “contracts” agreeing to indenture themselves and their issue for the rest of their livesso that owners could instruct their grateful male property in “the art and mystery of farming and planting,” and females in “the art and mystery of cooking and housekeeping.” \(The mystery of decent clothing was ignored. Campbell details intimate aspects of master-slave inequality in Texas, including the provision of special “Negro shoes,” made without sizing, from leather so stiff that it often ruined Gone to Texas rejects the Southern view of Reconstruction as a time when rapacious Northern Carpetbaggers took advantage of ignorant freedman and oppressed whites. In fact, Campbell notes, most members of Texas’ Reconstruction regime were long-time Texans, not interloper Yankees. \(The old Carpetbagger myth is so ingrained, he writes, that even Robert Caro’s 1990 biography of Lyndon Johnson erroneously Texas was also Southern in the widespread practice of sharecropping and tenant farming. In 1890, four out of 10 Texas farms were worked by tenants, and by 1930 the ratio continued on page 14 1/16/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER S