J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind by Steven L. Davis

By Steven L. Davis

The 1st Texas-based author to realize nationwide consciousness, J. Frank Dobie proved that actual writing springs simply from the local soil of Texas and the Southwest. In best-selling books comparable to stories of Old-Time Texas, Coronado's youngsters, and The Longhorns, Dobie captured the Southwest's folks background, which used to be speedy disappearing because the usa turned ever extra urbanized and business. well known as "Mr. Texas," Dobie ironically has virtually disappeared from view--a casualty of adjusting tastes in literature and shifts in social and political attitudes because the 1960s.In this vigorous biography, Steven L. Davis takes a clean examine a J. Frank Dobie whose "liberated brain" set him on an highbrow trip that culminated in Dobie turning into a political liberal who fought for hard work, unfastened speech, and civil rights good ahead of those reasons grew to become applicable to so much Anglo Texans. Tracing the entire arc of Dobie's existence (1888-1964), Davis indicates how Dobie's insistence on "free-range considering" led him to such radical activities as calling for the total integration of the college of Texas through the Forties, in addition to taking up governors, senators, and the FBI (which secretly investigated him) as Texas's major dissenter in the course of the McCarthy period.

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Americans were outraged, and all pretensions of neutrality were cast aside. Within a few weeks, the United States declared war against Germany. The war gave Dobie a chance to engage in the adventure he had long craved. He immediately volunteered for the cavalry. In his application letter, Dobie disregarded the European war. Instead, he focused entirely on Mexico. “I know the Mexican genius,” Dobie wrote, adding that he had “managed good-sized bodies of workmen, Mexicans especially. . I can and will raise a company of one hundred men out of the ranch countries of Southwest Texas.

Mexico had grievances, after all, having lost much of her territory to the United States in 1848. Mexico was also embroiled in its ongoing revolution, which destabilized the border. As early as 1914, when Dobie was still in New York, people were calling for the United States to invade Mexico and instill order. ” But then he assured Bertha, “as the South is still attached to the United States . . ”3 The border situation intensified in 1915, when Anglos discovered that Mexicanos in San Diego, Texas—some forty miles from the Dobie Ranch— were plotting a revolution.

The waves of immigrants supplied the cheap labor necessary to maintain America’s rapid industrial expansion, but a nativist movement arose in protest, and immigration was fast becoming a political issue. Columbia University seemed far removed from such matters, at least on the surface. Founded in 1754 by King George II of England, it gained a reputation for educational innovation and created one of the country’s first graduate programs. The year before Dobie’s arrival Columbia launched a new school of journalism, founded by Joseph Pulitzer.

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