Our third annual Holiday Book Fair was a great success. Several hundred people visited the Byrne-Reed House to visit with authors and enjoy coffee and homemade treats baked by Humanities Texas staff. Twenty-one authors signed their latest books, which were sold at a discounted price. The book fair and bake sale raised $1,600 for the Bastrop Public Library, which suffered losses to its collection as a result of the September wildfires.

View photographs of the book fair in the January 2012 e-newsletter. 

Read below for more information about the authors and their books!

Atatürk: Lessons in Leadership from the Greatest General of the Ottoman Empire

Austin Bay

Austin Bay, a former U.S. Army Reserve Colonel, has written on military issues for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and the Houston Chronicle. He is a contributor to and has appeared on numerous television networks, including Fox News, MSNBC, and CNBC, and on programs such as Nightline. For eight years, he was a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Bay served on active duty during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq in 2004. Atatürk: Lessons in Leadership from the Greatest General of the Ottoman Empire is a biography of Turkey's modernizing leader and brilliant general.

Atatürk: Lessons in Leadership from the Greatest General of the Ottoman Empire book jacket.

American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900

H. W. Brands

H. W. Brands is the Dickson, Allen, Anderson Centennial Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin. He writes on American history and politics, with books including Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times, The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, and T. R.: The Last Romantic. Several of his books have been bestsellers; two, Traitor to His Class and The First American, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

In this grand-scale narrative history, Brands brilliantly portrays the emergence, in a remarkably short time, of a recognizably modern America. American Colossus captures the decades between the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century, when a few breathtakingly wealthy businessmen transformed the United States from an agrarian economy to a world power. From the first Pennsylvania oil gushers to the rise of Chicago skyscrapers, this spellbinding narrative shows how men like Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller ushered in a new era of unbridled capitalism. In the end America achieved unimaginable wealth, but not without cost to its traditional democratic values.

American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865–1900 book jacket.

Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis.

Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It book jacket.

The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield: A Tragedy of the Gilded Age

H. W. Brands

Even before he was shot dead on the stairway of the tony Grand Central Hotel in 1872, financier James “Jubilee Jim” Fisk Jr. was a notorious New York City figure. From his audacious attempt to corner the gold market in 1869 to his battle for control of the geographically crucial Erie Railroad, Fisk was a flamboyant exemplar of a new financial era marked by volatile fortunes and unprecedented greed and corruption. But it was his scandalously open affair with a showgirl named Josie Mansfield that ultimately led to his demise.

In this riveting short history—the first in his American Portraits series—H. W. Brands traces Fisk’s extraordinary downfall, bringing to life New York’s Gilded Age and some of its legendary players, including Boss William Tweed, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the railroad tycoon Jay Gould.

The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield: A Tragedy of the Gilded Age book jacket.

Moctezuma’s Table: Rolando Briseño’s Mexican and Chicano Tablescapes

Norma E. Cantú

Award-winning author Norma E. Cantú is professor of English at The University of Texas at San Antonio and a former Humanities Texas board member. Her scholarly interests include folklore, Chicana/o literature, and borderlands studies. She is also author of the award-winning Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera (1995). She formerly served as senior arts administrator at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and as acting director of the Center for Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In Moctezuma’s Table, Cantú gathers artwork from artist Rolando Briseño’s exhibition, La Mesa de Moctezuma/Moctezuma’s Table, originally hosted by San Antonio’s Instituto Cultural de México and later by the Instituto de México, Montreal, Canada, along with the words of fifteen poets, writers, artists, and scholars who reflect in various ways on the layers of interpretation to be derived from Briseño’s works.

Moctezuma’s Table: Rolando Briseño’s Mexican and Chicano Tablescapes book jacket.

Amigoland: A Novel

Oscar Casares

Oscar Casares was born and raised in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. His writing has earned him fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Copernicus Society of America, and the Texas Institute of Letters. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he now teaches creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin and directs its MFA program in English. His first novel, Amigoland, a story of two elderly feuding brothers living on the border who journey to Mexico together to resolve their dispute, received a "starred review" from Publishers Weekly and was later selected by the 2010 Mayor's Book Club in Austin for that year's citywide reading campaign.

Amigoland: A Novel book jacket

Texas State Cemetery

Will Erwin and Jason Walker

Those who fought great battles, negotiated historic treaties, and wrote the laws that brought Texas into being lie at rest in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. So do a host of writers and educators, astronauts and athletes, Texas Rangers, and elected officials. Even some rogues and scoundrels have a resting place at the Texas State Cemetery. This book tells the stories of the Texas State Cemetery and of many noteworthy Texans who are buried in its peaceful lawns and hillsides. Magnificent color photographs by Laurence Parent, as well as historical photographs, offer an evocative visual tour of the Texas State Cemetery and its monuments. Coauthors Jason Walker and Will Erwin both work for the Texas State Cemetery. Walker is the director of research, overseeing educational programs, exhibitions, collection management, and website management. Erwin is a historian at the Cemetery. His duties include taking photographs, producing promotional materials, maintaining the website and grounds, and curating the Cemetery's historical records.

Texas State Cemetery book jacket.

Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good

Steven Fenberg

Steven Fenberg, community affairs officer at the Houston Endowment, was executive producer and writer of the Emmy Award-winning documentary film, Brother, Can You Spare a Billion? The Story of Jesse H. Jones, which was narrated by Walter Cronkite. In Unprecedented Power, Fenberg tells the story of Jesse Holman Jones, the Houston businessman who went to Washington as an appointed official and provided the pragmatic leadership that salvaged capitalism during the Great Depression and militarized industry in time to fight and win World War II. Jones—an entrepreneur with an eighth-grade education who built Houston’s tallest buildings of the time—was considered to be the most powerful person in the nation, next to President Roosevelt. As chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Jones saved farms, homes, banks, and businesses; built infrastructure; set the price of gold with FDR each morning in the president’s bedroom; and in the process, made a substantial profit for the government.

Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good book jacket.

Timeless Mexico: The Photographs of Hugo Brehme and Colors on Clay: The San José Tile Workshops of San Antonio

Susan Toomey Frost

An avid collector, Susan Toomey Frost is also the author of Colors on Clay: The San José Tile Workshops of San Antonio, which won the Ron Tyler Award for Best Illustrated Book on Texas History and Culture from the Texas State Historical Association and a Publication Award from the San Antonio Conservation Society. Timeless Mexico presents a selection of the work of Hugo Brehme, who created an idyllic vision of Mexico that influenced photography, film, and literature for a hundred years. His beautifully composed, timeless images of lo mexicano—cacti and pyramids, Indian children and marketplaces, colonial buildings, and snow-capped volcanoes and peaks—were widely distributed and acclaimed both in Mexico and internationally. Frost, who has collected Brehme's photography for many years, provides an illuminating introduction to his life and work. She also describes his practice of printing and distributing his photographs as collectible postcards—a practice that, together with publication in countless books, magazines, and tourist brochures, gave Brehme's work the wide circulation that made his images of Mexico iconic.

Timeless Mexico: The Photographs of Hugo Brehme book jacket

State of Minds: Texas Culture and its Discontents

Don Graham

Don Graham is J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of American and English Literature at The University of Texas at Austin. Graham has written extensively on southwestern American literature, film, and history and is also a past president of the Texas Institute of Letters and a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. In State of Minds, he brings together and updates essays he published between 1999 and 2009 to paint a unique picture of Texas culture. In a strong personal voice—wry, humorous, and ironic—Graham offers his take on Texas literary giants ranging from J. Frank Dobie to Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy and on films such as The Alamo, The Last Picture Show, and Brokeback Mountain. He locates the works he discusses in relation to time and place, showing how they sprang (or not) from the soil of Texas and thereby helped to define Texas culture for generations of readers and viewers—including his own younger self growing up on a farm in Collin County.

State of Minds: Texas Culture and its Discontents book jacket.

Remember Ben Clayton

Stephen Harrigan

Stephen Harrigan is the author of seven previous books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels Challenger Park and the New York Times best seller The Gates of the Alamo. A longtime writer for Texas Monthly and other magazines, he is also an award-winning screenwriter who has written many movies for television. He is a faculty fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin. Remember Ben Clayton, the story of a sculptor creating a statue for the grieving father of a young Texan killed in World War I, vividly depicts a rich swath of American history. It ranges from outlaw settlements on the Texas frontier to the cafés of Paris, from Indian encampments to artists’ ateliers, and to the forgotten battlefield in France where Ben Clayton died. It shows us the all-consuming labor that a monumental work of sculpture demands and the price it exacts from both artist and patron. With unforgettable power and compassion, it presents a deeply moving story about the bonds between fathers and children, and about the power and purpose of art.

Remember Ben Clayton book jacket.

Rudder: From Leader to Legend

Thomas M. Hatfield

Thomas M. Hatfield is the director of the Military History Institute in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches courses on World War II and previously served as an academic dean for thirty years. The former president of John Tyler Community College and Austin Community College, he is also an internationally recognized scholar on World War II. In this first comprehensive biography of James Earl Rudder, Hatfield goes far beyond the usual focus on Rudder’s heroism in World War II to recreate with rich detail exciting events on battlefields and in boardrooms. He paints a full portrait that permits a wider appreciation for every phase of Rudder’s early life, from childhood, to his storied military exploits, to his remarkable postwar achievements and far-reaching public service. Utilizing access to previously unavailable family papers, memoirs, and interviews, Hatfield has crafted an insightful and unsparing view of the man that applauds his accomplishments and reveals his foibles.

Rudder: From Leader to Legend book jacket

Don't Make Me Go to Town: Ranchwomen of the Texas Hill Country

Many people dream of "someday buying a small quaint place in the country, to own two cows and watch the birds," in the words of Texas ranchwoman Amanda Spenrath Geistweidt. But only a few are cut out for the unrelenting work that makes a family ranching operation successful. Don't Make Me Go to Town presents an eloquent photo-documentary of eight women who have chosen to make ranching in the Texas Hill Country their way of life. Ranging from young mothers to elderly grandmothers, these women offer vivid accounts of raising livestock in a rugged land, cut off from amenities and amusements that most people take for granted, and loving the hard lives they've chosen. Rhonda Lashley Lopez began this project while earning a graduate degree in journalism and photojournalism at The University of Texas at Austin. Since then, she has worked in newspapers and magazines as a photographer, writer, and editor. She has also taught journalism at Schreiner University and Austin Community College.

Don't Make Me Go to Town: Ranchwomen of the Texas Hill Country book jacket.

Américo Paredes: In His Own Words, an Authorized Biography

 Manuel F. Medrano

Américo Paredes (1915–1999) was a folklorist, scholar, and professor at The University of Texas at Austin who is widely acknowledged as one of the founding scholars of Chicano studies. Born in Brownsville, Texas, along the southern U.S.-Mexico Border, Paredes’s early experiences impacted his writing during his later years as an academic. He grew up between two worlds—one written about in books, the other sung about in ballads and narrated in folktales. Manuel F. Medrano, professor of history at The University of Texas at Brownsville, interviewed Paredes over a five-year period before Paredes’s death in 1999, and also interviewed his family and colleagues. Medrano is coauthor of Medieval Culture and the Mexican American Borderlands and Charro Days in Brownsville. He has written three bilingual poetry books and has produced and directed Los del Valle, an oral history of Rio Grande Valley people.

Américo Paredes: In His Own Words, an Authorized Biography book jacket.

Hard Ground

Michael O'Brien

For more than thirty years, Michael O'Brien has worked as a freelance photographer for national publications, including Life, National Geographic, Esquire, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, ESPN Magazine, and Texas Monthly. He has also published the book The Face of Texas, and his work is housed in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the International Center for Photography in New York. In Hard Ground, O'Brien joins with renowned singer-songwriter Tom Waits, described by The New York Times as "the poet of outcasts," to create a portrait of homelessness that impels us to look into the eyes of people who live "on the hard ground" and recognize our common humanity. Combining their formidable talents in photography and poetry, O'Brien and Waits have crafted a work in the spirit of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, in which James Agee's text and Walker Evans's photographs were "coequal, mutually independent, and fully collaborative" elements.

Hard Ground book jacket.

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say about Us

James W. Pennebaker

James W. Pennebaker is an internationally recognized social psychologist. Author of the popular book Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotion and Writing to Heal, which focused on expressive writing, Pennebaker is Regents Centennial Liberal Arts Professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author or editor of ten books and almost three hundred scientific articles. The Secret Life of Pronouns examines how and why pronouns and other forgettable words reveal so much about us. Partly a research journey, the book traces the discovery of the links between function words and social and psychological states. Written for a general audience, the book takes the reader on a remarkable and often unexpected journey into the minds of authors, poets, lyricists, politicians, and everyday people through their use of words. At the heart of this book is the idea that our words leave indelible fingerprints of personality, our relationships and backgrounds, and even our plans for the future.

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say about Us book jacket.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

Ruth Pennebaker

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough is Ruth Pennebaker's first adult novel. She is the author of three highly acclaimed young-adult novels, Don’t Think Twice, Conditions of Love, and Both Sides Now, as well as essays and articles for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Texas Observer, Parents, Redbook, McCall's, Cooking Light, and other nationwide publications. She is also a commentator for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough is about three generations of women living under one roof—a grandmother with a shoplifting habit, a recent divorcee who is struggling at work, and her text message-addicted teenage daughter.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough book jacket.

Lone Star Leaders: Power and Personality in the Texas Congressional Delegation

James W. Riddlesperger Jr.

James W. Riddlesperger Jr. is professor of political science at Texas Christian University. He teaches American politics with interests in Congress, the presidency, and Texas politics. An award-winning teacher, he also has published thirty-five research articles and two dozen entries in encyclopedias. He is coauthor of The Austin-Boston Connection: Five Decades of House Democratic Leadership, 19371989 (Texas A&M Press, 2009), Texas Politics (Cengage, 2010), and Presidential Leadership and Civil Rights Policy (Greenwood, 1995) and winner of the Aaron Wildavsky Book Award. In Lone Star Leaders, Riddlesperger and coauthor Anthony Champagne paint lively pictures of the characters in the Texas congressional delegation—party leaders, committee chairs, and political pioneers—that have made Texas a major player in congressional politics for the past 125 years, as well as the ideologues and the buffoons that are also part of the Texas congressional story.

Lone Star Leaders: Power and Personality in the Texas Congressional Delegation book jacket.

Nothing Happened and Then It Did

Jake Silverstein

Jake Silverstein’s work has appeared in the anthologies Best American Travel Writing 2003, The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup (2006), and Submersion Journalism (2008). He joined the staff of Texas Monthly as a senior editor in 2006 and later became the magazine’s fourth editor. In 1999, he relocated to remote West Texas in the hopes of becoming a journalist. He wanted to be “where there was nothing happening,” he writes, so that “when something did happen there would be no one but me to write about it.” Unfortunately, the leads he turned up never quite worked out, so he kept moving, crossing back and forth across the border between fact and fiction in search of a magazine article. Part memoir, part novel, part history, Nothing Happened and Then It Did chronicles these often hilarious misadventures around Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico, as Silverstein’s search becomes an attempt to understand the purpose of journalism and the nature of storytelling.

Nothing Happened and Then It Did book jacket.

Design for a Vulnerable Planet

Frederick Steiner

Frederick Steiner is the Henry M. Rockwell Chair in Architecture and dean of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Academy in Rome. Drawing on his own and others' experiences across three continents, Steiner advocates design practice grounded in ecology and democracy and informed by critical regionalism and reflection. He begins by establishing the foundation for a more ecological approach to planning and design, adopting a broad view of ecology. Steiner explores precedents for human ecological design provided by architect Paul Cret, landscape architect Ian McHarg, and developer George Mitchell while discussing their planning for the University of Texas campus, the Lake Austin watershed, and The Woodlands. Steiner then focuses on emerging Texas urbanism and extends his discussion to broader considerations beyond the Lone Star State, including regionalism, urbanism, and landscape in China and Italy. He also examines the lessons to be learned from human and natural disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the BP oil spill. Finally, Steiner offers a blueprint for designing with nature to help heal the planet's vulnerabilities.

Design for a Vulnerable Planet book jacket.

Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama

Jeremi Suri

Jeremi Suri is Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of five books on contemporary politics and foreign policy. Suri's research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007, for example, Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America's Top Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. His writings appear widely in blogs and print media. Suri is also a frequent public lecturer and guest on radio and television programs. In Liberty’s Surest Guardian, he looks to America’s history to see both what it has to offer to failed states around the world and what the nation should avoid. Suri suggests that far from being cold imperialists, Americans have earnestly attempted to export their invention of representative government to failing states throughout the world. These policies have had successes (Reconstruction after the American Civil War, the Philippines, Western Europe) and failures (Vietnam), and we can learn a good deal from both.

Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama book jacket

Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite

L. Michael White

L. Michael White is Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins and the director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of From Jesus to Christianity and has been featured in and co-written two award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries. In Scripting Jesus, White challenges us to read the gospels as they were originally intended—as performed stories of faith rather than factual histories. White demonstrates that each of the four gospel writers had a specific audience in mind and a specific theological agenda to push, and consequently wrote and rewrote their lives of Jesus accordingly—in effect, scripting Jesus to get a particular point across and to achieve the desired audience reaction. With his usual engaging style, White helps us read the gospels with fresh eyes, giving us a clearer idea of what the gospel stories meant to people in ancient times, and offering insight for how we can understand them today.

Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite book jacket.