God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State.

Author:Wright, Lawrence
Position:General - Book review
 
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Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for the New Yorker. He won a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (2006) and other accolades for Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (2013). Born in Texas, he currently resides in Austin.

THE TOPIC: Few other states match Texas's tremendous impact on the rest of the nation: the state gave us Lyndon Johnson, Buddy Holly, Ann Richards, George W. Bush, and a booming oil economy. Yet it is a state full of contradictions, "a culture that is still raw, not fully formed, standing on the margins but also growing in influence, dangerous and magnificent in its potential." In 14 essays, Wright explores Texas's cities, culture, and politics, while delving into the state as a movie myth, a borderland, and a harbinger of the future. Whether we like it or not, he argues, America's future is Texas, which is growing at twice the rate of California and winning more congressional seats and electoral votes with a young, diverse, and--relative to its legislators--progressive population. And "[d]espite the legendary qualities of boorishness, braggadocio, greed, and overall tackiness that are associated with my state," Wright concludes, "there is a lot to love about the traditional elements of our culture."

Knopf. 368 pages. $27.95. ISBN: 9780525520108

Dallas Morning News ****

"The push-pull between homegrown admiration and deep disappointment fuels God Save Texas with literary tension. ... As a native of Dallas his insights on the city are particularly valuable and often provocative." CHRIS VOGNAR

New York Times ****

"A bride and groom emerging from a chapel leads to a disquisition on the Spanish conquistadors and the explorer Cabeza deVaca;a chapter on Texas radio turns into a discussion of Texas gun laws and a consideration of Texas snakes.... He has a deep knowledge of the terrain; he has been hoarding details over a lifetime, consulting history books, his reporter's notes, his own memories and what one imagines is a massive clippings file of truly strange stuff." JENNIFER SZALAI

NY Times Book Review ****

"God Save Texas is his most personal work yet, an elegant mixture of autobiography and long-form journalism, remarkably free of elitist bias on the one hand, and pithy guidebook pronouncements on the other. Like many Texas liberals, Wright has a soft spot for the three Texans who reached the White House--a feeling no doubt heightened by his loathing of the present...

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