It was announced not that long ago that this would be the last issue of Texas Books in Review under the guidance of our editor-in-chief, Dr. Frank de la Teja, who will retire from the Center for the Study of the Southwest and Texas State University at the end of August. Frank has been our director and our friend for five years, and he will be missed but far from forgotten as he moves into new adventures with his wife, Maggie, and his two grown children. Dr. de la Teja will also continue his writing and his research regarding Juan Seguín, the legendary Tejano revolutionary.
Though his students call him Dr. D, most of us just call him “Frank.” And Frank has been a superb leader and voice of guidance for the Center, Texas Books in Review, and our other journal, Southwestern American Literature. Frank wasn’t born in Texas, but he likes to say he got here as soon as he could—he grew up in New Jersey and studied at Seton Hall University where he took a B.A. in political science, and a few years later he left with his M.A. in history. Luckily for us, Frank relocated to Texas in the 1980s and earned his Ph.D. in history at the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT, Frank worked under the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist James Michener. Michener, best known for Tales of the South Pacific (later adapted into the musical, South Pacific) and his 1959 novel, Hawaii, was hard at work on another epic, but this saga was about the Lone Star State and was simply titled Texas. If you happen to have a copy of the novel, you can open it up and find Frank’s name there in the acknowledgements.
Eventually, Frank found his way to Texas State (when it was still Southwest Texas State University). The university and the Center for the Study of the Southwest have been lucky to have him, and all of us here have been proud to see him editing books, publishing articles, and giving presentations about the Republic era of Texas, a place and a time period he was once urged not to focus on. Luckily, Frank didn’t listen!
As of this writing, it is unknown who will be Dr. de la Teja’s replacement. Regardless of who is chosen, our program coordinator, Tammy Gonzales, and I will make sure that Texas Books in Review keeps you up to date about the latest novels, memoirs, history books, poetry collections, and biographies about Texas and Texans. Hopefully, in the near future, we will run a review of Frank’s biography of Juan Seguín. I have no doubt that it will be a positive review, too.
I’m happy to say that this goodbye issue is one of our best. We have reviews on books about football, the Civil War, myths and legends, and poetry and photography. We also have some of the most trusted critics in the state giving us their thoughts on the latest Lone Star literature. You will find a lot of familiar names in this issue: Joe McDade gives his two cents on Plum Creek by W.W. McNeal. This novel covers a lot of Texas history and mixes fictional characters with historical ones such as Jack “Coffee” Hays. If that is not enough for you, we also have Mary L. Scheer’s review of Lone Star Unionism, Dissent, and Resistance: Other Sides of Civil War Texas, which was edited by Dr. de la Teja. You can also find out what our former editorial fellow, Lawton Cook, has to say about Bill Wittliff’s The Devil’s Sinkhole, and if you have the time you can read my opinion on the latest book from Joe R. Lansdale.
We also would like to say farewell to our editorial fellow, Samuel Garcia, who recently completed his Ph.D. in education-school improvement. Now, with his doctorate in hand, he sets out on a new journeys, and we wish him all the luck and hope he visits us soon. Summer is almost here, another season and another age. Some folks leave, new folks arrive. But for the time being, it’s time to put the chairs in the wagon. From all of us here at Texas Books in Review, we hope you take the long way home.