In compiling FIFTY YEARS OF THE TEXAS OBSERVER (Trinity University Press), editor CHAR MILLER has fashioned a loving tribute to the doggedly liberal rag and the iconoclasts who have produced and sustained it since its 1954 debut. The 91 pieces culled from the archives are a sort of journalistic Wayback Machine offering firsthand peeks at the likes of Willie Morris, Molly Ivins, Larry McMurtry, and other Observer stalwarts alternately shaking their fists at officious incompetents and lobbing bouquets to the heroes of the underclass. Most of all, it's an ice-cube-down-the-collar reminder that Texas is less than fifty years removed from bad times like the segregation filibuster of 1957. And it's painfully clear that the big-ticket items of the past (school finance, racism, pollution) continue to haunt our present and future.

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