Cannibals and Condos
Texans and Texas along the Gulf Coast
6 x 9, 136 pp.
Pub Date: 08/01/1986
Tarleton State University Southwestern Studies in the Humanities
Price:        $29.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Cannibals and Condos

Texans and Texas along the Gulf Coast

By Robert Lee Maril

A third book in the series is scheduled for publication this fall. CANNIBALS AND

Robert Lee Maril, a professor at Texas Southmost College, has recently written a book that explores the Texas coast and the diverse people who call it home considering the many ways Texans have altered these lands. In Cannibals and Condos: Texans and Texas along the Gulf Coast Maril talks with rich, poor, and in between to show how today’s decisions will affect future lives.

For eons the Texas Gulf Coast stretched undisturbed for nearly four hundred miles of quiet wetlands and long beaches. The Karankawa Indians, often maligned as cannibals, once lived there in harmony with land and sea. Today the coast is rapidly being changed—being forced to give up its limited resources. At tremendous economic risk, condominiums and whole communities are being built there on shifting sands that offer little to support the demands of large, permanent populations.

Maril’s book is a personal exploration of that coastline as seen through the eyes of a professional researcher, traveler, and resident of the Texas Coast. He describes the region’s unique beauty and its appeal for those who want to escape crowded cities and colder climes. In exploring the coast, its people, and its social myths, Maril offers modest solutions to its problems: oil spills and toxic pollution, hurricanes, the displacement of those who make their living from the sea, and, most importantly, the destruction of the land itself in the name of development.

Maril is also the author of Texas Shrimpers: Community, Capitalism, and the Sea which was published in 1983.

What Readers Are Saying:

“It is a quiet, thought-provoking book that asks whether the children and grandchildren of today’s coastal residents will be able to enjoy the kind of natural beauty we take for granted.” --Angleton Times, Books in Review

“As usual, Maril stays in his own neighborhood, the Texas Gulf Coast, and I, for one, am glad: I can’t think of any contemporaries who know the Texas Gulf Coast as well as Maril. From his promising first book to this one represents the maintenance of knowledge, style, and above all, love and understanding of the area. --R. R. Hinojosa Smith
There’s no whimpering here, although the loss of land and landscape is as heartfelt as it can be. The language is as spare and as lean and as strong as the tufts of grass that survive salt water and the dangerous hurricanes that frequently harass our Gulf Coast.” --R. R. Hinojosa Smith

“ . . . a superb book. . . . It vividly captured the impact and feeling of development along the Gulf Coast in a manner that should touch any reader—regardless of the approach or bias --David A. Ross
towards the environment or development.” --David A. Ross

“In twenty-one short essays, Maril, a professor of sociology at Texas Southmost college, eloquently presents the disparate forces interacting along the Texas Coast. He personalizes these forces through conversations with shrimpers, fishermen, students, and his own emotional response as a father, teacher, and resident of Brownsville. . . . Maril writes calmly and clearly about a subject he cares for deeply.” --Review of Texas Books

“ . . . it is the quality of writing in Cannibals and Condos that brings enjoyment to the reading. Maril takes on the role of translator of a foreign tongue, telling us about island things we may have seen or heard of but not fully understood.” --The Monitor, McAllen, Texas

“I found it that rare and wonderful mixture of the everyday transformed into shimmering tenderness and the unfamiliar presented so that we are left with a poignant sense of loss for what we have never known or experienced. I thought we had heard the last such voice when Loren Eisley’s voice was stilled. This book, however, will take its place among such classics. Few readers will be able to resist the temptation to buy several copies to send to those few cherished friends and kin who can appreciate its special qualities.” --M. Estellie Smith

“This would be a good book to read for anyone who plans to move to the Texas coast or who loves to vacation there, or who simply is curious about the part of the Lone Star State that most often is overlooked. Cannibals and Condos is a ‘good read.’ It is a good ‘think’ as well.” --Dallas Morning News

“Robert Lee Maril, authors of Texas Shrimpers: Community, Capitalism, and the Sea, an excellent study of those mainstays of the state’s seafood industry, gives us a different look at the coast in Cannibals and Condos: Texans and Texas Along the Gulf Coast. Here Maril presents personal essays on a variety of matters, including duck hunting (he was an abject failure), sand castles (Maril is an expert), fishing and fishermen (he decided he would rather watch fish than catch them), and condos (South Padre Island is already overrun with them, and the condo economy will soon take total control of Port Isabel). Maril’s description of his preparations for a hurricane is very good, but best of all is his account of the biggest oil spill in the world, the Ixtoc disaster of 1979. What really saved the Texas beaches from being covered with Mexican crude oil was a change in seasonal winds, not governmental action. Since then, there has been “no major research effort offering a broad empirically based analysis of the impact of Ixtoc on Texas or Mexico.” And as Maril warns, “our luck cannot hold forever.” --Southwest Review

“This delightful book by sociologist Robert Lee Maril provides a personalized account of continuity and change in human interaction with the Texas Gulf coastal environment over the past 450 years. Maril is a talented writer who gracefully integrates history and social commentary with personal reflection; he soberly considers matters ranging from coastal zoning to offshore incineration of toxic wastes, but balances these ruminations with irony, whimsy, and gently self-deprecating wit. . . . All caveats aside, I highly recommend Maril’s book to readers specifically interested in Texas or the U.S. Gulf Coast, and more generally to anyone who approves of humanistic approaches to human ecology.” --David R. M. White


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