For more than a century the Houston area has grown steadily and at times spectacularly. The lifeblood of the region's development has been the flow of credit; its heart, the banks that have pumped investment dollars through the ecomy, and particularly Texas Commerce Bank, one of the city's largest. From the chartering of Texas Commerce's first predecessor in 1886, the bank's ancestor institutions helped finance the growth of the region's lumber, cotton, and oil industries and played important roles in Houston's civic life. One of them, the National Bank of Commerce, was long controlled by Jesse Jones, secretary of commerce and head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation under President Franklin Roosevelt and one of the fathers of modern Houston. In recent decades Texas Commerce again received considerable publicity as one of the fastest growing and most profitable banks in the nation. Since the early 1970s, it acquired more than seventy subsidiary banks throughout Texas and the region. In their research the authors had complete access to bank records and to current and retired bank officers. The balanced, readable result will fascinate bankers, investors, ecomic and business historians, and others interested in the ecomic development of a state region.