Texas Politics, by Wilbourn Benton, professor of political science at Texas A&M, is a textbook that surveys the constitution of the state of Texas, with heavy emphasis on the written, legal structure of how the state is run. Much of the book is a dry summary. When he can, the author tells the story of the laws he discusses, as with the law of impeachment. His 50-page summary of Texas history provides a bare minimum for understanding the state’s unique past. Extra-legal factors in the state’s life occasionally intrude. Illegal immigration is discussed briefly but candidly, and the student will hear the word “wetback.” The context of the discus sion, however, is a chapter on labor relations. There is no mention of Mexican irredentism or the cultural clash that is sometimes attendant on massive illegal immigration. 

Texas, like other Southern and Western states, is no friend to the labor union, and Benton acknowledges—while deploring—that reality. On this issue the author’s conventional liberalism shows through. There is a need for organized labor, and it will grow stronger as industrialization increases. As elsewhere, labor-management relations in Texas show their maturity when conflict focuses on specific issues, rather than merely reinforcing class divi sions. As predictably liberal as the pro union bias is the discussion of the death penalty, consisting of a string of anti death-penalty opinions. An Epilogue measures Texas against other states and praises assimilation and damns diversity. In the hands of an effective teacher, Texas Politics could be a suitable text for an interesting class. Behind its facade of “facticity” and evenhandedness, how ever, runs a cautious but constant pressure for liberalism and the assimilation of Texas to Eastern norms.


[Texas Politics: Constraints and Opportunities, by Wilbourn E. Benton; Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall]