... a ""crucible of compromise,"" a country that can ""coax and coddle and please you with its beauty and resource; and drive you to drink with its willful meanness and dismal poverty"" takes precedent over the President in this particular account. Mr. Porterfield, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, has done a good job in surveying the heritage that shaped a president in terms of the past and its survivors. His character sketches, biographical excerpts, and interviews along with an ear for dialect and an eye for landscape present a substantial picture of the area. Republican oriented, Johnson proud, domino playing, gambling, ranching, wry (""Abstract art"" says Grandpa Holmes, ""is a product of the untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered"") folk abound. Included are regional histories: Indian raids; the Civil War; town feuds (Anglo-Americans fought South-Germanic Americans fought North); contemporary incidents; LBJ's family ; and a few incidental stories of the President as a youth. But primarily it is an overview of a country that is rapidly changing because its sons are differently challenged. As one ex-resident put it: ""20 miles to water/10 miles to wood/6 inches to hell. Gone back East to wife and family--make yourself at home."" For the Norman Rockwell enthusiast.