Mark K. Updegrove

There’s no shortage of books about Lyndon Johnson out there—the fourth installment of Robert Caro’s magnum opus comes out in May—but Mark K. Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library and author of the oral history Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency, which we excerpt this month (“Power Trio,” page 94), finds many of them wanting. “Often the biographies I read of LBJ are one-sided,” he says. “LBJ’s persona is so broad and so deep that you can take the most negative aspects of who he was and construct an accurate—but unbalanced—portrait of him. In my view, LBJ is best understood through the eyes of those who knew him.”

S. C. Gwynne

It has been nearly two years since senior editor S. C. Gwynne appeared in the pages of TEXAS MONTHLY, but in that time he has become known more as a book writer than a journalist. In 2010 he published a narrative history of Quanah Parker and the Comanche called Empire of the Summer Moon, which has spent close to sixty weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. This month he returns to the magazine to write a cover story on Southwest Airlines (“Luv and War at 30,000 Feet,” page 124), but history is never far from his mind. His next book, on Stonewall Jackson, is due out in the fall of 2013.

Nicki Longoria

When you meet art assistant Nicki Longoria, you can’t help but notice her tattoos: the eye-catching images include a slice of pizza, a rotary phone, a panther, and a tribute to her World War II vet grandfather. She applies this same creative flair daily in the art department, where she’s been doing color correction, Photoshop touch-ups, and photo-shoot work for exactly one year this month. Her (metaphorical) fingerprints, in fact, are all over this issue: among other things, she made a shadow cast for an airplane, shot a PayDay candy bar, and posed as a restaurant diner. See if you can find her on page 132.