Cover and banner image courtesy of Jerod Roberts
and Shumla Archaeological Research Center
Taking Care of Business
This spring has been a busy one for the Center for the Study of the Southwest. We’ve hosted multiple events, readings, panels, and lectures all about Texas and the greater Southwest. It has been hectic but exciting. Our program coordinator and associate editor, Tammy Gonzales, has been putting in lots of hours to schedule all our guests and make each event more special than the last. Our new director, John Mckiernan-González, has also been burning the proverbial midnight oil by arranging for historians such as Dr. Melissa Stuckey, Dr. Tyina Steptoe, and Dr. Flannery Burke to come speak in good old San Marcos.
All of these scholars showcased a different side of a region that is often portrayed with stereotypes, thin caricatures, and sometimes outright ugly lies. Dr. Steptoe went into the wonderful history of zydeco music in Houston, which is a narrative as thrilling as it is wild. The Center for the Study of the Southwest also helped host the 2018 U.S.-Mexico Summit, which covered the year’s Mexican national elections as well as the future of relations between Mexico and the United States. With Texas sharing nearly 2,000 miles of border with Mexico, this was an important discussion for all.
And now we’re getting geared up for another sweltering summer just to do it all again in the fall.
This issue of Texas Books in Review covers a little something for everyone. There’s history, politics, literature, sports, violence, and salvation. Emily Spangenberg reviews City in a Garden: Environmental Transformations and Racial Justice in Twentieth-Century Austin, Texas by Andrew M. Busch, an important book that details the racial divide in the city of the violet crown—a fact many remain ignorant about or try to ignore. We also have a review of the newest James Carlos Blake novel, The Ways of Wolfe, by David Pegram. This thriller continues the saga of the Wolfe family along the Texas-Mexico borderlands where the nights are always a little bit warmer. Reviewer Joseph Fox is back with his thoughts on Death on the Lonely Llano Estacado: The Assassination of J.W. Jarrott, a Forgotten Hero by Bill Neal, which is a strange odyssey of gunslingers, politicians, lies, myth, and the flatlands of North Texas. You’ll want to read these and all our other reviews of books about Texas and by Texans.
It is looking like it is going to be another record breaking season as far as the Texas heat goes, so I hope you all try to stay cool this summer. Find a nice spot with a breeze or at least a fan set on high. Kick back with a glass of iced tea—or something a bit more festive if you prefer—and unwind with a good book. Thanks for checking us out, and we’ll see you again once the temperature has dropped a bit and college football is in full swing. I hope you enjoy this issue of Texas Books in Review.