Holiday Book Fair

Holiday Book Fair: Saturday, December 9

Humanities Texas will host its ninth annual Holiday Book Fair at the historic Byrne-Reed House on Saturday, December 9, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A number of noteworthy authors—including Monte Akers, Michael Barnes, Chris Barton, Olga Campos Benz, Patricia Bernstein, Daina Ramey Berry, John B. Boles, George Bristol, Chad S. Conine, Michael Corcoran, David Courtney, Mike Cox, Greg Garrett, Joe Holley, Joseph Huerta, Michael Hurd, Alison Macor, Donna Marie Miller, Carmen Oliver, William E. Reaves, Kathleen Shafer, Jeremi Suri, Don Tate, Deb Olin Unferth, Mark K. Updegrove, Eddie Wilson, and Jennifer Ziegler—will visit with the public and sign copies of their latest books, which Humanities Texas will offer for purchase at a discounted price. Available titles include works of fiction and nonfiction, with selections for both adult and youth readers. Invite your friends!

Proceeds will benefit Hurricane Harvey recovery.

Park for free in the St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church lot on the northwest corner of 15th and Rio Grande Streets, and enjoy coffee and a bake sale of donated and homemade treats.

Friends of Humanities Texas receive an additional 25% percent discount on Holiday Book Fair purchases!


Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty

John B. Boles

Not since Merrill Peterson's Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation has a scholar attempted to write a comprehensive biography of the most complex Founding Father. In Jefferson, John B. Boles plumbs every facet of Thomas Jefferson's life, all while situating him amid the sweeping upheaval of his times. We meet Jefferson the politician and political thinker—as well as Jefferson the architect, scientist, bibliophile, paleontologist, musician, and gourmet. We witness him drafting the Declaration of Independence, negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and inventing a politics that emphasized the states over the federal government—a political philosophy that shapes our national life to this day. Boles also offers new insight into Jefferson's actions and thinking on race. His Jefferson is not a hypocrite, but a tragic figure—a man who could not hold simultaneously to his views on abolition, democracy, and patriarchal responsibility. Yet, despite his flaws, Jefferson's ideas would outlive him and make him into nothing less than the architect of American liberty.

John B. Boles, Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty (Basic Books, 2017).

The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush

Mark K. Updegrove

In this endearing, illuminating work, presidential historian Mark K. Updegrove tracks the two Bush presidents from their formative years through their post-presidencies and the failed presidential candidacy of Jeb Bush, derailing the Bush presidential dynasty. Drawing extensively on exclusive access and interviews with both Bush presidents, Updegrove reveals, for the first time, their influences and perspectives on each other’s presidencies; their views on family, public service, and America’s role in the world; and their unvarnished thoughts on Donald Trump and the radical transformation of the Republican Party he now leads.

Mark K. Updegrove, The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush (Harper, 2017).

The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office

Jeremi Suri

In The Impossible Presidency, celebrated historian Jeremi Suri charts the rise and fall of the American presidency, from the limited role envisaged by the Founding Fathers to its current status as the most powerful job in the world. He argues that the presidency is a victim of its own success—the vastness of the job makes it almost impossible to fulfill the expectations placed upon it. Suri traces America's disenchantment with our recent presidents to the inevitable mismatch between presidential promises and the structural limitations of the office. A masterful reassessment of presidential history, this book is essential reading for anyone trying to understand America's fraught political climate.

Jeremi Suri, The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office (Basic Books, 2017).

The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, From Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation

Daina Ramey Berry

In life and in death, slaves were commodities, their monetary value assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh is the first book to explore the economic value of enslaved people through every phase of their lives—including preconception, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, the senior years, and death—in the early American domestic slave trade. Covering the full "life cycle," historian Daina Ramey Berry shows the lengths to which enslavers would go to maximize profits and protect their investments. Writing with sensitivity and depth, she resurrects the voices of the enslaved and provides a rare window into enslaved peoples' experiences and thoughts, revealing how enslaved people recalled and responded to being appraised, bartered, and sold throughout the course of their lives. A profoundly humane look at an inhumane institution, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh will have a major impact how we think about slavery, reparations, capitalism, nineteenth-century medical education, and the value of life and death.

Daina Ramey Berry, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, From Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation (Beacon Press, 2017).

Indelible Austin: Selected Histories

Michael Barnes

Indelible Austin: Selected Histories collects several dozen historical columns written by Michael Barnes and originally published by the Austin American-Statesman. The notion of publishing a book grew out of frequent reader requests for a collected version of these stories, which have not been covered in standard histories of Austin. The columns connect old Austin with new Austin and almost always bring the historical record into the present. Themes include the city's natural settings, built environments, older neighborhoods, ancestral families, and park gems; the meeting of politics, cultures, and charity; and interpretations of how old and new Austin relate. Stories from African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and the LGBT community are all featured.

Michael Barnes, Indelible Austin: Selected Histories (Waterloo Press, 2015).

Living With the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse

Greg Garrett

When humankind faces what it perceives as a threat to its very existence, a macabre thing happens in art, literature, and culture: corpses begin to stand up and walk around. The zombie apocalypse, Greg Garrett shows us, has become an archetypal narrative for the contemporary world, in part because zombies can stand in for any of a variety of global threats, from terrorism to Ebola, from economic uncertainty to ecological destruction. But this zombie narrative also brings us emotional and spiritual comfort. These apocalyptic stories, in which the world has been turned upside down and protagonists face the prospect of an imminent and grisly death, can also offer us wisdom about living in a community, present us with real-world ethical solutions, and invite us into conversation about the value and costs of survival. 

Greg Garrett, Living With the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Of Texas Rivers and Texas Art

William E. Reaves

In Of Texas Rivers and Texas Art, Andrew Sansom, a leading Texas conservationist, and William E. Reaves, an influential Texas art collector and historian, have teamed up to showcase some of the finest contemporary river art detailing the gorgeous traits of Texas landscapes. The featured artwork comes from Randy Bacon, Mary Baxter, David Caton, Margie Crisp, Keith Davis, Fidencio Duran, Jon Flaming, Charles Ford, Pat Gabriel, Hunter George, Billy Hassell, Lee Jamison, Robb Kendrick, Laura Lewis, William Montgomery, Noe Perez, Jeri Salter, Erik Sprohge, Debbie Stevens, and William Young. The collection of work included in this book is exemplary of the strong inspiration that rivers have provided for a vast current of literature, music, and art, in turn shaping their place in life and culture and bringing about a greater appreciation of the stunning beauty of our natural world.

Andrew Sansom and William E. Reaves, Of Texas Rivers and Texas Art, (Texas A&M University Press, 2017).

It's News to Me

Olga Campos Benz

Marissa Cavelo awakens under an alcohol-induced fog and has just minutes to get to a meeting at the television station where she works. She’s sure her career is doomed. Three days earlier, her chaotic adventure begins as a reporter and anchor at KATX-TV in Austin, Texas. While trying to prove to her station manager and back-stabbing co-workers that she is more than a pretty Latina who’s only good for fluff pieces, Marissa stumbles upon a huge exclusive and suddenly finds herself up against ruthless criminals who’ll do anything—including taking down a news crew if necessary—to keep illegal activities from being uncovered.

Olga Campos Benz, It's News to Me (2017).

The Grande Dame of Austin: A History of the Driskill Hotel

Monte Akers

The Driskill is "along with the Capitol and the University of Texas Tower, a third of Austin's pale triumvirate of beloved architectural landmarks." Consider what might happen if a single, attractive structure was erected to attract and house celebrities, common people, and scoundrels for more than 130 years. Consider what else might happen if the structure also became the favorite lodging of a president, the scene of endless legislative deal-making and the place that locals, tourists, and dignitaries went to stay, celebrate, cut loose, and engage in peccadilloes. That and more, is the story of the Driskill Hotel. Yet this book is much more than the history of a hotel. It is the tale of a Texas tradition, a political "capitol away from the Capitol," a gathering place of society's elite, the mainstay of a community, and a place of adventure. Whether the reader is interested in Texas history, Austin's history, hotels, politics, true crime, or ghosts, there is something for all in The Grande Dame of Austin: A History of the Driskill Hotel.

Monte Akers, The Grande Dame of Austin: A History of the Driskill Hotel (Waterloo Press, 2017).

Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion

Chris Barton

During World War I, British and American ships were painted with bold colors and crazy patterns from bow to stern. These stunning patterns and colors were meant to confuse the enemy about a ship's speed and direction. By the end of the war, more than four thousand ships had been painted with these mesmerizing designs. Author Chris Barton and illustrator Victo Ngai vividly bring to life this little-known story of how the unlikely and the improbable became just plain dazzling.

Chris Barton, Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion (Millbrook Press, 2017).

Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan

Patricia Bernstein

Ten Dollars to Hate tells the story of the massive Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s—by far the most "successful" incarnation since its inception in the ashes of the Civil War—and the first prosecutor in the nation to successfully convict and jail Klan members. Dan Moody, a twenty-nine-year-old Texas district attorney, demonstrated that Klansmen could be punished for taking the law into their own hands. The cases were the beginning of the end for this iteration of the Klan. Membership dwindled almost as quickly as it had grown, but the Klan's poisonous influence lingered through the decades that followed.  Ten Dollars to Hate explores this pivotal—and brutal—chapter in the history of America.

Patricia Bernstein, Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan, (Texas A&M University Press, 2017).

Glacier National Park: A Culmination of Giants

George Bristol

George Bristol takes readers on a journey through the history of Glacier National Park, beginning over a billion years ago from the formation of the Belt Sea, to the present day climate-changing extinction of the very glaciers that sculpted most of the wonders of its landscapes. He delves into the ways in which this area of Montana seemed to have been preparing itself for the coming of humankind through a series of landmass adjustments like the Lewis Overthrust and the ice ages that came and went. Bristol also recounts how a renewed conservation ethic fostered by such leaders as Emerson, Thoreau, Olmstead, Muir, and Teddy Roosevelt took hold. Their disciples were Grinnell, Hill, Mather, Albright, and Franklin Roosevelt, and they would not only take up the call but rally for the cause. These giants would create and preserve a park landscape to accommodate visitors and wilderness alike.

George Bristol, Glacier National Park: A Culmination of Giants, (University of Nevada Press, 2017).

Texas Sports: Unforgettable Stories for Every Day of the Year

Chad S. Conine

When it comes to sports, Texas more than earns its bragging rights. The Lone Star State has produced championship teams and legendary athletes not only in football, baseball, and basketball, but in dozens of other sports as well. Texas Sports celebrates more than a century of achievements in a day-by-day record of the people and events—both unforgettable and little-known—that have made Texas a powerhouse in the world of sports. Chad S. Conine packs a wealth of sports facts and stories into 366 days. With a winning combination of victories and heartbreaks, men's and women's sports, and all regions of the state, Texas Sports is a must-read for all sports fans and trivia buffs.

Chad S. Conine, Texas Sports: Unforgettable Stories for Every Day of the Year, (University of Texas Press, 2017).

All Over the Map: True Heroes of Texas Music

Michael Corcoran

From country and blues to rap and punk, Texas music is all over the map, figuratively and literally. Texas musicians have pioneered new musical genres, instruments, and playing styles, proving themselves to be daring innovators who often call the tune for musicians around the country and even abroad. To introduce some of these trailblazing Texas musicians to a wider audience and pay tribute to their accomplishments, Michael Corcoran profiles thirty-two of them in All Over the Map: True Heroes of Texas Music. Corcoran covers musicians who work in a wide range of musical genres, including blues, gospel, country, rap, indie rock, pop, Cajun, Tejano, conjunto, funk, honky-tonk, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and Western swing. His focus is on underappreciated artists, pioneers who haven't fully received their due. He also includes well-known musicians who've been underrated, such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Selena, and invites us to take a closer look at the unique talents of these artists. 

Michael Corcoran, All Over the Map: True Heroes of Texas Music, (University of Texas Press, 2005).

The Texanist: Fine Advice on Living in Texas

David Courtney

"The Texanist," Texas Monthly's perennially popular back-page column, has become the magazine's most-read feature. Until the July 2016 issue, an original illustration by the late award-winning artist Jack Unruh, depicting the Texanist in a situation described in the column, accompanied the Texanist's sage wisdom. Unruh's peerless illustrations displayed a sly wit that paired perfectly with Courtney's humorous ripostes. The Texanist gathers several dozen of Unruh's most unforgettable illustrations, along with the fascinating, perplexing, and even downright weird questions that inspired them. Curing the curious, exorcizing bedevilment, and orienting the disoriented, The Texanist advises on such things as: Is it wrong to wear your football team's jersey to church? When out at a dancehall, do you need to stick with the one that brung ya? Is it real Tex-Mex if it's served with a side of black beans? Can one have too many Texas-themed tattoos? The Texanist addresses all of these important subjects and more. Whether you heed the good guidance, or just enjoy the whimsical illustrations, The Texanist will both entertain and educate you.

David Courtney and Jack Unruh (illustrator), The Texanist: Fine Advice on Living in Texas, (University of Texas Press, 2017).

Legends & Lore of the Texas Capitol

Mike Cox

From its beginning as one of the most ambitious construction projects west of the Mississippi, the imposing red granite Lone Star statehouse loomed large in Texas lore. The iconic landmark rests on a foundation of election rigging, an unsolved murder, land swaps, and pre-dedication blackmail. It bore witness to the first meeting between LBJ and Lady Bird as well as a bizarre resolution honoring the Boston Strangler. Mike Cox digs up a quarry's worth of the capitol's untold history, cataloguing everything from its ghost stories to its public art and collectible tourist kitsch.

Mike Cox, Legends & Lore of the Texas Capitol (The History Press, 2017).

Hometown Texas

Joe Holley

Joe Holley and photographer Peter Brown are interested in place and what makes people who they are. With particular interest in how people take the hand they've been dealt―fate, family, circumstance, luck―and craft a life for themselves, the authors celebrate the grit and gumption of these Texas originals. Introducing quirky characters and tenacious spirits, Holley's stories seek out the personality of the small town while Brown's photographs capture the essence of a changing landscape. Hometown Texas aims not to be nostalgic or sentimental but rather to show readers an unknown Texas―one that, while not vanishing, is certainly on the wane. Organized into five topographical, geographic, and cultural sections―East, West, North, South, and Central―three dozen stories and more than eighty complementary images work to create a parallel narrative to reveal what Brown has described as the "collective, various, remarkably complex soul that makes Texas unique." Hometown Texas is an exploration across miles and cultures, of well-traveled roads and forgotten byways, deep into the heart of Texas.

Joe Holley and Peter Brown (photographer), Hometown Texas, (Trinity University Press, 2017).

La Roja: A Novel

Joseph Huerta

La Roja is a suspenseful, coming-of-age narrative set in McAllen, South Texas, along the Mexican border. This novel explores the complexity of this distinctive landscape–both its culture, religion, and illicit drug activity–through the unexpected romance of two high school students, Paco and Nancy. Through Huerta's original prose, the author tells the whimsical story of the couple's first meeting and, later, the challenging collision of their beliefs. What begins as a love story transforms into a tragedy amid the tensions of the border and all that it represents.

Joseph Huerta, La Roja (De Facto Publishing, 2017).

Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas

Michael Hurd

At a time when "Friday night lights" shone only on white high school football games, African American teams across Texas burned up the gridiron on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Thursday Night Lights tells the inspiring, largely unknown story of African American high school football in Texas. Drawing on interviews, newspaper stories, and memorabilia, Michael Hurd introduces the players, coaches, schools, and towns where African Americans built powerhouse football programs under the Prairie View Interscholastic League (PVIL) leadership. He covers fifty years (1920–1970) of high school football history, including championship seasons and legendary rivalries such as the annual Turkey Day Classic game between Houston schools Jack Yates and Phillis Wheatley, which drew standing-room-only crowds of up to forty thousand, making it the largest prep sports event in postwar America. In telling this story, Hurd explains why the PVIL was necessary, traces its development, and shows how football offered a potent source of pride and ambition in the black community, helping black kids succeed both athletically and educationally in a racist society.

Michael Hurd, Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas (University of Texas Press, 2017).

Rewrite Man: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Warren Skaaren

Alison Macor

In Rewrite Man, Alison Macor tells an engrossing story about the challenges faced by a top screenwriter at the crossroads of mixed and conflicting agendas in Hollywood. Whether writing love scenes for Tom Cruise on the set of Top Gun, running lines with Michael Keaton on Beetlejuice, or crafting Nietzschean dialogue for Jack Nicholson on Batman, Warren Skaaren collaborated with many of New Hollywood's most powerful stars, producers, and directors. By the time of his premature death in 1990, Skaaren was one of Hollywood's highest-paid writers, although he rarely left Austin, where he lived and worked. Yet he had to battle for shared screenwriting credit on these films, and his struggles yield a new understanding of the secretive screen credit arbitration process—a process that has only become more intense, more litigious, and more public for screenwriters and their union, the Writers Guild of America, since Skaaren's time. His story, told through a wealth of archival material, illuminates crucial issues of film authorship that have seldom been explored.

Alison Macor, Rewrite Man: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Warren Skaaren (University of Texas Press, 2017).

The Broken Spoke: Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk

Donna Marie Miller

James and Annetta White opened the Broken Spoke in 1964, then a mile south of the Austin city limits, under a massive live oak, and beside what would eventually become South Lamar Boulevard. Since then, the stage at the Spoke has hosted the likes of Bob Wills, Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Marcia Ball, Pauline Reese, Roy Acuff, Kris Kristofferson, George Strait, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Asleep at the Wheel, and the late, great Kitty Wells. Today the original rustic, barn-style building, surrounded by sleek, high-rise apartment buildings, still sits on South Lamar, a tribute and remembrance to an Austin that has almost vanished. Housing fifty years of country music memorabilia and about a thousand lifetimes of memories at the Broken Spoke, the Whites still honor a promise made to Ernest Tubb years ago: they're "keepin' it country."

Donna Marie Miller, The Broken Spoke: Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk (Texas A&M University Press, 2017).

Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies

Carmen Oliver

All the students in the class are assigned reading buddies, except for Adelaide. She already has one—a bear! And Adelaide is quite persuasive as she explains to her language arts teacher, Mrs. Fitz-Pea, and the reader, that bears really do make the best reading buddies: they sniff out good books and their claws are just right for turning pages. And the bear looks rather friendly (and studious) in these crayon-bright, contemporary illustrations, making this is must-read picture book for story time!

Carmen Oliver, Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies (Capstone Young Readers, 2016).

Marfa: The Transformation of a West Texas Town

Kathleen Shafer

A small town in the vast desert of West Texas, Marfa attracts visitors from around the world to its art foundations and galleries, film and music festivals, and design and architecture symposiums. Marfa tells an engaging story of how this isolated place became a beacon in the art world, like the famous Marfa Lights that draw curious spectators into the West Texas night. As Kathleen Shafer delves into the town's early history, the expansion of arts programming, and the increase in tourism, she unlocks the complex interplay between the particularities of the place, the forces of commerce and growth, the textures of local culture and tradition, and the transformative role of artists and creative work. Bookending her story between two iconic artworks—the whimsical Prada Marfa and the crass Playboy Marfa—Shafer illuminates the shifting cultural landscape of Marfa, showing why this place has become a mecca for so many and how the influx of newcomers has transformed its character.

Kathleen Shafer, Marfa: The Transformation of a West Texas Town (University of Texas Press, 2017).

Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth

Don Tate

Little Friedrich Müller was a puny weakling who longed to be athletic and strong like the ancient Roman gladiators. As a young man, he found himself under the tutelage of a professional body builder. Friedrich worked and worked. He changed his name to Eugen Sandow and he got bigger and stronger. Everyone wanted to become "as strong as Sandow." Inspired by his own experiences body-building, Don Tate tells the story of how Eugen Sandow changed the way people think about strength and exercise and made it a part of everyday life.

Don Tate, Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth (Charlesbridge, 2017).

Wait Till You See Me Dance: Stories

Deb Olin Unferth

For more than ten years, Deb Olin Unferth has been publishing startlingly askew, wickedly comic, cutting-edge fiction in magazines such as Granta, Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, NOON, and the Paris Review. An Unferth story lures you in with a voice that seems amiable and lighthearted, but it swerves in sudden and surprising ways that reveal, in terrifying clarity, the rage, despair, and profound mournfulness that have taken up residence at the heart of the American dream. Her stories are revered by some of the best American writers of our day, but until now there has been no stand-alone collection of her short fiction. Wait Till You See Me Dance consists of several extraordinary longer stories as well as a selection of intoxicating very short stories. These stories often take place in an exaggerated or heightened reality, a quality that is reminiscent of the work of Donald Barthelme, Lorrie Moore, and George Saunders, but in Unferth's unforgettable collection she carves out territory that is entirely her own.

Deb Olin Unferth, Wait Till You See Me Dance: Stories (Graywolf Press, 2017).

Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir

Eddie Wilson

On August 7, 1970, Eddie Wilson and a band of hippies threw open the doors of Armadillo World Headquarters, and the live music capital of the world was born in Austin, Texas. Over its ten-year lifespan, the Armadillo hosted thousands of high-profile musicians—Willie Nelson, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Taj Mahal, AC/DC, Charlie Daniels, the Ramones, Roy Buchanan, and Bette Midler, to name a random few. The Armadillo helped define the Austin lifestyle, culture, and identity, setting the stage for successors such as the SXSW music festival, PBS's Austin City Limits, and the ACL festival, which have made Austin an international destination for music fans. In this rollicking memoir, Eddie Wilson tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Armadillo, vividly describing how two previously clashing groups—rednecks and hippies—came together at the Armadillo, enjoying a new blend of country music and rock that spawned a many-named movement: cosmic cowboy, progressive country, and redneck rock, among others. Extensively illustrated with candid photographs and music posters, Armadillo World Headquarters recounts the story of this legendary venue as no other book can.

Eddie Wilson, Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir (TSSI Publishing, 2017).

Revenge of the Happy Campers

Jennifer Ziegler

The Brewster triplets, Dawn, Darby, and Delaney, would usually be thrilled to spend a week with their beloved Aunt Jane. She's fun and fearless and fascinating, and she loves to hang out with them. But Aunt Jane is taking the girls somewhere they've never been before . . . camping! It's one disaster after another, whether they're sinking canoes in the lake at the run-down campground, being attacked by fire ants, or failing to pitch a tent that stays upright. Worst of all, they meet a group of boys who think that their oldest brother is going to be president one day—when clearly, that is Dawn's destiny. Before they know it, the Brewster triplets are caught up in the girls-versus-boys Great Camping Challenge, only some are more eager to win than others. Can they beat the boys, prove to Aunt Jane that they really are happy campers, and not get into a horrible sister fight? Six times the campers means six times the calamity in the latest Brewster triplets adventure!

Jennifer Ziegler, Revenge of the Happy Campers, The Brewster Triplets (Scholastic Press, 2017).