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“The Weirdest Western Text Book Ever Published”—Larry McMurtry

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451.     PATTON, Jack (illustrator) & John Rosenfeld, Jr. (text). Texas History Movies. Dallas: The Southwest Press, 1943. [2], [1-2] 3-217 [1, blank] pp., black and white cartoons. 4to (31.5 x 23.5 cm), original green cloth lettered in black on spine and upper cover. Light shelf wear and mild foxing, overall very good, with pencil tracings of three panels laid in.

     Large format Southwest Press edition. These lively, and at times cheeky and hilarious, cartoons first appeared in the Dallas News in the fall of 1926 and were printed daily until June, 1927. In 1928 the Magnolia Petroleum Company obtained copyright and unleashed a tsunami of small paperback editions throughout the Texas school system. Patton and Rosenfeld comment in the introduction to the present edition:

The “History Movies” were designed to entertain the reader, adult and juvenile, but soon were drafted by classrooms as an outline for the study of the story of Texas…. The authors of the series directed every effort to keeping the stories humorous, human, vivid, and real. Thus the pictures themselves tell the story and not the printed captions…. Nor have the authors scrupled to use slang, colloquialisms, modernisms, and deliberte anachronisms to project, what they believe to be, the sprit of an episode.

     A.C. Greene comments in The Fifty Best Books on Texas, pp. 27:

Along with a couple of generations of Texans, I got my start in loving state history from Texas History Movies in comic strip form…. In later years Texas History Movies was criticized for depicting Mexican leaders in harsh caricature, and Mobil Oil (which absorbed Magnolia) dropped distribution, giving the printing plates to the Texas State Historical Association. The history holds up very well, incidentally.

     Larry McMurtry remarks in Sacagawea’s Nickname (New York: New York Review of Books, 2001), pp. 92-93.

The weirdest western textbook ever published…. The Texas Monthly called Texas History Movies the second most influential Texas book of the twentieth century, after Lonesome Dove, but the ranking is clearly wrong. My novel may have lent its name to a few subdivisions (Dove Estates), forty or fifty saloons, and a lot of horses, but Texas History Movies, at times an officially sanctioned vehicle of historical instruction, stopped two generations of Texas public school students dead in their tracks where history is concerned…. The effect, not to mention the irreverence, of those comics would be hard to overstate. When I reached a university I was shocked to discover that history was supposed to be learned from wordy books with few pictures and no comics; to this day I can’t shake the conviction that Sam Houston, Santa Anna, and other luminaries of Lone Star history must have looked just as they appeared in Texas History Movies.


Sold. Hammer: $20.00; Price Realized: $24.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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