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Americans, and probably many foreigners, carry a very definite image of Texas in their heads. It's not a place like Delaware or Saskatchewan, known mostly to those who live there. We know Texas from the Westerns and the soaps, from "Giant", the novels of Larry McMurtry, and dozens of films, songs, and paintings. We "know" Texas to be a warm-hearted, big-talking place of oil, cattle, vast landscapes, barbeque, chilli con carne, laissez faire capitalism, violence, and life sentences for carrying a little pot. It's a place, in other words, full of contradictions. AT HOME IN TEXAS amazes us because the original image of Texas, at least in the words of those who wrote about it between 1820 and 1870, was entirely different, but never small. "Our ability to know the world in an unconscious or taken-for-granted sense is the heart of the experience of being at home. It is that feeling of being familiar and comfortable in a place or situation. The passage of time is necessary or the experience of place. The individual develops a feeling of ease by repeated interactions with his or her world...." Imagination and perception are important to understanding human attachment to the land. We should recognize the role of attitudes and values in shaping the American landscape. This is the often-stated, enormous theme of Doughty's book. I feel that the author did not really come close to proving or establishing anything that resembles this. We do not find "how settlers developed their view of Texas as home" in a volume of 145 pages. The book cannot focus on the topic because he bit off more than he could chew, if I may express myself so boldly. We read descriptions by people at many moments in Texas history, but few show how those people changed over time.Read more ›
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