Pulitzer Prize–winning book critic Gail Caldwell shines such a persistent light on her Texas family (especially colorful dad Wild Bill Caldwell) that she becomes nearly invisible in her own mem- oir, A Strong West Wind (Random House). When she does write herself into the spotlight, we see an immensely likable, if somewhat scattered, character who has clearly not forgotten the issues that shaped the liberals of her generation: women’s rights, civil rights, and questionable military adventurism. And we witness her own formative years, as she makes an escape to the liberal climes of Austin and the University of Texas, where her Vietnam War protests drive a wedge between herself and her WWII-vet father. Caldwell knows her way around the English language and even makes a dusty Amarillo upbringing sound remarkably appealing.
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