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

Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright (The Looming Tower, The Terror Years) takes a breather from his incisive reporting on al-Qaeda to focus his considerable wit and insight on his home state. God Save Texas is a personal peek behind the curtain to see what makes the country's fastest-growing state tick. Raised in Dallas, living in Austin, and a former writer for Texas Monthly, Wright somewhat reluctantly bleeds Texas. He even plays keyboard for the Austin rockabilly band WhoDo. Following a scattershot path, he explores all the things that make Texas such a pivotal place to be reckoned with: oil, Spanish missions, Houston, modern presidents (LBJ, Bush 41, Bush 43), guns, feminism, race, politics, the Mexican border, artsy-fartsy Marfa, Big Bend National Park and, of course, music (e.g., Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Bob Wills and that ageless icon Willie Nelson). Big state--big list.

Although generally lighthearted, Wright can't help but spend a few chapters reviewing the bizarre politics of Texas in the age of Trump. When its legislature met recently, the key agenda items were immigration, abortion, open carry, school bathrooms and feral hogs--though not necessarily in that order. Generous with bon mots, archetypal woodcut illustrations and a wealth of "talkin' Texas" arcana (including journalist Molly Ivins's description of one attorney general who was "so mean he wouldn't spit in your ear if your brains were on fire"), God Save Texas is a wonderfully entertaining trip with arms-length skepticism--a love letter with bite. Wright's enigmatic Lone Star State might be summed up in this label on an Austin restroom door: "Whatever--just wash your hands." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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