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Paperback Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans Book

ISBN: 0306809427

ISBN13: 9780306809422

Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans

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An insider's history of Texas that examines the people, politics, and events which have shaped the Lone Star State, from prehistory to the modern day Here is an up-to-the-moment history of the Lone Star State, together with an insider's look at the people, politics, and events that have shaped Texas from the beginning right up to our days. Never before has the story been told with more vitality and immediacy. Fehrenbach re-creates the Texas saga from...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Best of its class

My volume is the original 1968 version, so my comments do not emcompass whatever changes have been introduced in the recent edition. Nonetheless, Fehrenbach's book is simply the best of the breed with respect to a single volume history of Texas and its people. If you are politically correct, you will not like the historical accuracy of this book. The author clearly gives the Scotch-Irish (Anglo-Celts) their due for pushing the frontier westwards, settling Texas, and giving it its "Texas" tradition. One reviewer speaks of the absence of the Hispanic contribution, but it must be remembered that at the time of the Texas Revolution, Anglos outnumbered Mexicans ten to one in Texas. Indeed, the growth of Mexican population figures in Texas is a post World War II phenomenon, and the current ethnic composition is of recent vintage. The author is historically correct to limit his coverage of Mexicans in Texas to south of the Nueces, San Antonio, the Rio Grande valley and Ybarbo's group until after World War II. Had the Mexicans been able to defeat the Lipan Apaches and Comanches, the history would have been different. Another reviewer pans the book due to the author's leaving out a reference to a diary's author and then proceeds to allege the meeting in question was fictional. Based on this single case, he relegates the entire book to fictional status. It seems to me that there must be something else at work here. The author tells it like it was. Attitudes such as the Indians losing their land because they didn't develop it were normal in the time period involved, and the choice to fight for the Confederacy did revolve more around fighting with and for kin and neighbors rather than an abstract idea like states rights or anything else. In addition, Texas had only recently joined the Union, and the belief that it had the right to secede from the Union was widespread (and probably judicially correct except that the Civil War eliminated that viewpoint in law for the forseeable future.) And yes, Indians, blacks and Mexicans were looked down upon as inferior in general by the Scotch-Irish almost until the book was first written. But saying that this attitude was prevalent doesn't make the author racist or inaccurate in his depiction of the reality of the times. Observations on Indian culture and civilization may offend the politically correct individual in the twentieth century, but that does not make them less accurate. Those who wish to make a counter argument should do so in their own work, not simply rant against a position without supporting observations or facts. One negative reviewer has a legitimate criticism in bemoaning the lack on emphasis on water availability. This was particularly important west of Sweetwater and San Antonio, but one should recognize that any single volume will have omissions due to space. That does not make a book not worth reading -- only that it does not cover some reviewer's pet points.

What a Story!

Marvelous! This is the book I've been looking for about Texas History since I first moved here 10 years ago. Fehrenbach not only makes individual characters like Stephan F. Austin and John "Rip" Ford come alive with interest and passion, but he does a first rate job with the larger historical currents such as the westward movement of the "anglo-celts" across the continent or the economic and social impact of the Spanish Mustang on the Native Americans. The scope of the book is vast and it is almost too long and involved for an amateur like me with limited time. However the story is so compelling and even riveting that at times I could hardly put it down. It almost reads like a good novel. The narrative overflows the strict confines of what might be considered "Texas History." The author ventures far afield in time, distance and circumstance to weave the various historical threads together into the drama of Texas. It is a work for those interested in American, Southern, Southwestern, Native American or Mexican History. It is a good reference.The book was written some time ago (1968) and has been updated (2000). It is relatively free of sterile "correct" language which I think allows it to be wonderfully original and more credible. It is not a whitewash. The author is sometimes unapologetic and he can offend. He does criticize but also gives admiration, credit and praise where I did not expect it. This is a man who wants to get to the heart and soul of the matter. He knows these colorful people and their setting and through his perceptive narrative you interact with them, too. You can almost see and touch them. This is just dog-gone interesting stuff!This book is a keeper. It has found a permanent spot on my shelf even if I move far away from Texas. I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

This is THE history of Texas and the men who made it great

In a crisp, authoritative and compellingly readable style Fehrenbach wraps the history of Texas up like no other.Beginning with this part of the continent's emergence from pre-history, Fehrenbach introduces us to its earliest inhabitants. We travel with the peaceful Indians who migrated from Wyoming through Nebraska and New Mexico into Texas, afoot and gathering their food from wild plants. The "lowly gatherers", they were called, confined to the ground they could cover on foot, and little match for the fleet game that abounded on every hand.But when they encountered horses brought in by the Spanish they became obsessed with horsemanship. Large numbers of horses were stolen in nighttime raids on Spanish remudas and the "gatherers" were transformed into the fiercest Indians on the North American continent: the Comanches.With their new mobility they could appear from nowhere, strike the Spanish settlements and disappear into nowhere like the passing wind. Better horsemen have never lived, and horses have never been used as instruments of war with such expertness as they were used by the Comanches. The Spanish incursion was pushed back, and further back.So when Stephen F. Austin applied to the Mexican authorities to settle eastern Texas he was seen as added defenses against the marauding Comanches. Houston was given huge grants of land and he brought in settlers. Spanish soldiers -- fighting for they knew not what -- were one thing. Men fighting the Comanches to protect their homesteads were something else, and they fought back blow for blow. So the Comanches were encouraged to occupy west Texas, leaving the settlers the eastern part of the land pretty much alone.At some point the Mexican authorities became uneasy over the large numbers of settlers coming in and friction arose. Austin was forcibly detained during a negotiating confab in Mexico, but still the settlers came. Eventually, after Houston's release, the differences between the settlers and their Spanish overlords became hostilities that ultimately led to the Battle of the Alamo. The long siege of the Alamo allowed a prolonged consolidation and retreat of General Sam Houston's ragtag army -- a retreat that was roundly criticized by politicians issuing proclamations from their comfortable homes -- that ended in the decisive fight for independence in a low-lying palmetto and scrub-oak studded swamp east of today's Houston -- the Battle of San Jacinto.There, 800 untrained but well-led and determined Texians staged a daring midday attack on the 1,500-man Mexican army led by the feared General Santa Anna -- a confident army enjoying its siesta, arms neatly stacked. It was Santa Anna who had taken over the Alamo siege from his subordinate and ended the holdout, and it was he who would annihilate the Texian army once and for all. But in less than an hour General Sam Houston's men, shouting "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad" killed 600 Mexicans and wou

Comprehesive, unapologetic view of Texas history.

This is by far the best history of Texas I've ever read. I am a fith generation Texan whose family arrived here from Georgia in the 1830's and 40's. Feherenbach is neither romantic nor aplogetic about the State's raucous and turbulent past. His discussion of the frontier wars is especially helpful in understanding why Spain and Mexico could never gain a firm foothold in Texas, the critical factor that led Mexico to legitimize and encourage Anglo-American emigration in the 1820's. The historical ramifications of this odd and little understood policy and the subsequent Anglo Texas/Comanche wars on the Texas frontier are largely responsible for the State's distictive social and political character. This is the one book that should be read by anyone having a serious interest in Texas history.

Explains why "Texas is the way it is!!!"

I am a fifth generation Texan. My matriarchal lineage arrived on the Texas frontier from Tennessee in 1855. My patriarchal lineage arrived from Virginia in January 1859. All my life, I heard stories from the family about the early years in Texas. Also, I noticed a difference between Texans and Texas and the citizens of the other states that we visited on vacation in the 1950's and 60's. A student of Texas history, I received the book as a gift in 1986 for the Sesquicentennial. Mr. Feherenbach tells the story like a kindly grandfather..."this happens and then this happens; so-and-so does that, and that's why things are the way they are." Understanding the "why" of history makes the story come alive. My favorite chapters include the discussion of how the introduction of European horses and cattle change American history forever. The dispersion of the Spanish Mustang about 1680 leads to the highpoint of the Plains Amerind (Indian) culture; the cow contributes to the devastation. The Anglo-Celt and the Way West chapters discuss westward migration. I consider the chapter on the Alamo to be the best ever written in a general presentation. Houston's victory at San Jacinto and his politically unpopular defense of the Union 25 years later are equal aspects of the man. Civil War and Reconstruction also affect the state, but the cattle drives beginning in the 1870's bring new wealth to the state that hastens the state's recovery faster than the Deep South. Likewise the Constitution of 1876 still affects Texas and US politics even today in ways that are not readily appreciated. I recommend the book to all students of history. To the native Texan, it gives a valuable insight into our native land. To the newcomer, it explains why Texas is more than a state, it is a "state of mind," and why so many newcomers decide they "don't wanna ever leave!" To all readers, it is a wonderfully told story that many will read again and again.
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