Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Builders: Herman and George R. Brown

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Builders: Herman and George R. Brown

Article excerpt

Builders: Herman and George R. Brown. By Joseph A. Pratt and Christopher J. Castaneda (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999. Pp. xxii, 326. $36.95, ISBN 0-89096-.840-3.)

In 1914 Herman Brown took over a small road construction company in the Central Texas communities of Belton and Temple; then with brother-in-law Dan Root "literally scraped out a living, grading and surfacing Texas roads" (p. xii) for the next twenty years. But in 1936, upon winning a contract to build the massive Marshall Ford Dam west of Austin on the Colorado River, the success story of one of the greatest twentieth-century construction companies in the world began. During World War II Herman and younger brother George established themselves firmly in the national spotlight through huge shipbuilding outlays as well as large-scale military contracts. In the 1950s and 1960s their construction empire grew in power and influence--especially with their friend Lyndon Baines Johnson as president--to rank in 1969 as the largest American engineering and construction company.

In Builders, Joseph A. Pratt, who is Cullen Professor of History and Business at the University of Houston, and Christopher J. Castaneda, an associate professor of the oral history program at California State University, Sacramento, have fashioned a readable study of two men whose actions over a thirty-five-year span tremendously affected their base of operations in Houston, their home state of Texas, and the United States. …

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