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 Texas : Features : Book Reviews

SAN ANTONIO
UNCOVERED
By
Mark Louis Rybczyk

Republic of Texas Press, 2000
300 pages

Reviewed by John Troesser


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"Historical Caulking"




In the introduction to this book, author Mark Rybczyk describes the odds and ends, bits and pieces, and flotsam and jetsam that he's collected here as historical caulking to fill in the cracks of history. It's a good analogy, but we would like to say that the coverage is so complete and the caulking of such high quality that if it is filling cracks, then it's more like a plastering-job by a conscientious professional.

Up until San Antonio Uncovered reached our hands, we had a half dozen books about the city. Three were picture books and short on text. Two were semi-informative and one was so bad we simply threw it away rather than have it wind up in the wrong hands - the hands of a reader. The first 40 pages of San Antonio Uncovered equaled the combined text of the two semi-informative ones.

We had plans to visit San Antonio and it dawned on me to put the book to the test. For several nights before our visit I read whichever chapters caught my eye. When I was actually confronted by the reality of driving into downtown San Antonio it was almost like coming home. I knew the stories - I felt nostalgic - I had to keep telling myself I had never been there before.

This book is an entertainment if you've never even set foot in Texas - it's a treat if you're a native. Better still if you are a San Antonian. We were so impressed with it that we called Mr. Rybczyk in Fort Worth where he is now a radio personality.

He wasn't in but we left a message. The next day we actually got a call back and he graciously took the time to tell us a little about how the book came to be.

The book is now in its second printing and it has been updated since the first. The only shortcoming is the fact the illustrations are all in black and white. They are well chosen, and being historic photos, they'd still be black and white even if they were in color. We think Yogi Berra said that.

Since San Antonio is the most popular tourist destination in the state - you can't really count on downtown being empty and quiet during the weekend. Our first visit was on a Wednesday and based on the light traffic and crowds, we recommend a weekday visit. It was possible to photograph downtown buildings by stopping in the middle of the street.

June 2001
John Troesser


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