Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas (Texas Bookshelf)

February 28, 2020 - Comment

“Harrigan, surveying thousands of years of history that lead to the banh mi restaurants of Houston and the juke joints of Austin, remembering the forgotten as well as the famous, delivers an exhilarating blend of the base and the ignoble, a very human story indeed. [ Big Wonderful Thing is] as good a state history

“Harrigan, surveying thousands of years of history that lead to the banh mi restaurants of Houston and the juke joints of Austin, remembering the forgotten as well as the famous, delivers an exhilarating blend of the base and the ignoble, a very human story indeed. [ Big Wonderful Thing is] as good a state history as has ever been written and a must-read for Texas aficionados.”—Kirkus, Starred Review

The story of Texas is the story of struggle and triumph in a land of extremes. It is a story of drought and flood, invasion and war, boom and bust, and the myriad peoples who, over centuries of conflict, gave rise to a place that has helped shape the identity of the United States and the destiny of the world.

“I couldn’t believe Texas was real,” the painter Georgia O’Keeffe remembered of her first encounter with the Lone Star State. It was, for her, “the same big wonderful thing that oceans and the highest mountains are.”

Big Wonderful Thing invites us to walk in the footsteps of ancient as well as modern people along the path of Texas’s evolution. Blending action and atmosphere with impeccable research, New York Times best-selling author Stephen Harrigan brings to life with novelistic immediacy the generations of driven men and women who shaped Texas, including Spanish explorers, American filibusters, Comanche warriors, wildcatters, Tejano activists, and spellbinding artists—all of them taking their part in the creation of a place that became not just a nation, not just a state, but an indelible idea.

Written in fast-paced prose, rich with personal observation and a passionate sense of place, Big Wonderful Thing calls to mind the literary spirit of Robert Hughes writing about Australia or Shelby Foote about the Civil War. Like those volumes, it is a big book about a big subject, a book that dares to tell the whole glorious, gruesome, epically sprawling story of Texas.

Comments

Anonymous says:

Texas, warts and all… Since I was a military brat, I managed to avoid any classroom study of Texas history and avoided it as an adult until a snide review of Harrigan’s book impelled me to read it, and I was amazed how interesting it was. Like most history books that cover a long amount of time, Harrigan’s book is a road map for further reading on particular aspects of Texas history. What Harrigan has done is to create a vivid and inclusive narrative that uses mini biographies of salient characters, traditions, and…

Anonymous says:

A Masterpiece of American History “Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas” is a masterpiece! Its a page turner that I couldn’t put down. With his method of telling the whole story with a punchline for of hundreds of individual tales, Stephen Harrigan has managed to tell how Texas became such an important segment of the United States. He has produced a major work of American literature. His history of the early French and Spanish explorers is not just part of the history of Texas, it tells of the exploration of the…

Anonymous says:

Engrossing and very educational I am only about 20% through this book (940 pages total, not even to civil war yet) and I have learned a tremendous amount about the early years of Texas. I am a native Texan and while I did not grow up there I am now at the age where I would like to better understand how it got to be the way it is. The book is a very detailed history and it is not a fast read.. While the events at the Alamo are revered (thanks to Walt Disney’s portrayal of Davy Crockett in the sixties) the full…

Comments are disabled for this post.

The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.