Nation State

Two new books from big-time publishers tell our mythic story yet again. Does anybody outside of Texas care?

SPRINGTIME IN TEXAS IS DIFFERENT than it is in other places; here we have to rave about the goddam bluebonnets and remember the Alamo and a whole bunch of other stuff: Texas Independence Day, Goliad, San Jacinto. I can hear the speeches now. But this year we’ll have an unusual amount of help with our homework—a new Alamo movie rumored to be released next month and a host of new books about the birth of Texas.

But what I want to know is, does anybody care about our past? The landscape of the long ago is still meaningful to historians and those readers who frequent the Texana sections of bookstores, but what about the rest of Texas? And the country at large? For those who have recently arrived here, Travis is the name of a county, and Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston are the names of universities. In short, is there a national constituency for Texas history?

The two newest books are by well-established historians. H. W. Brands, who hails from Oregon, holds a chair in American history at Texas A&M University, and currently lives in Austin, is about as prolific a historian as there is on the scene today. He has written books about Benjamin

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