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S.C. “Sam” Gwynne has worked for Texas Monthly in a variety of capacities since 2000. He is the author of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Tribe in American History, published in 2010. The book was on the New York Times best-seller list for 82 weeks and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Articles by S. C. Gwynne

Can Steve Patterson Fill This Stadium?

Aug 6, 2014 By S. C. Gwynne

It was just last year—amid spectacular losses and dramatic resignations—that the University of Texas saw its sports program go up in flames. As the new athletics director knows, a return to glory now rides on one person: him.

Luv and War at 30,000 Feet

Jan 21, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

Somehow, as every other major airline went bankrupt, slashed its workforce, or grounded planes, Southwest Airlines kept flying high. Today, Southwest is the country’s largest domestic carrier. So how does a feisty underdog vanquish its competitors and dominate a thoroughly beleaguered industry? One Kick Tail-a-Gram at a time.


Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

By now we've heard plenty about how smart senior presidential adviser Karl Rove is, and how he's the most powerful political consultant of all time, and how he delights Republicans and bedevils Democrats. But how did the man who made George W. Bush famous get to be famous—and infamous—himself?

Dell Freezes Over

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

It’s not just the stock price. It’s not just the executive exodus. It’s not just the flaming laptops. It’s not just the lousy customer service. It’s not just the sagging employee morale. It’s all of these things—and it’s deadly serious. Inside the sudden decline of the world’s most powerful computer company.

Bob Perry Needs a Hug

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

Houston homebuilder Bob Perry was the nation's largest individual political donor and the man criticized for helping to popularize “Swift boat” as a verb.

Mike Leach Is Thinking …

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

And you would be too if you were an itinerant Rollerblader with a passion for pirates who’d reinvented the game of college football, brought joy to Lubbock, beaten UT, and narrowly missed a shot at a national champi- onship. And what you’d be thinking is, “Gangway!”

The Great White Hope

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

During his three terms in office, Houston’s Bill White has been one of the most popular big-city mayors in America. Now he’s just the latest in a long line of Texas Democrats trying to win a statewide election. What makes Mayor Bill think he can break a fifteen-year losing streak?

Come Early. Be Loud. Cash In.

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

How did the University of Texas build the most successful college sports program in history? One visionary coach at a time. One world-class athlete at a time. One state-of-the-art stadium at a time. And with an ambitious, aggressive business model that’s the envy of its rivals everywhere.

Head Case

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

Depending on your point of view, the firing of Mike Leach, Texas Tech’s controversial football coach, was about the state of football (the sport has gone soft), concussions (they are a potentially life-threatening condition), or celebrity meddling (Craig James was a helicopter dad). But is it possible that Leach has no one to blame but himself?

Lust in Space

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

The lovesick antics of diapered astronaut Lisa Nowak are some combination of funny and sad but seemingly not revealing of anything larger, until you realize that her tragic, tabloidy breakdown says everything you need to know about NASA’s many troubles.

The Next Frontier

Jan 20, 2013 By S. C. Gwynne

How has the state’s most storied ranch managed to survive and thrive in the twenty-first century? By operating in a way that its founder, Captain Richard King, would scarcely recognize.

Last Days of the Comanches

Apr 30, 2010 By S. C. Gwynne

In an exclusive excerpt from his new book, Empire of the Summer Moon, special correspondent S. C. Gwynne re-creates in thrilling detail the bloody 1871 battle that marked the beginning of the end for the most fearsome tribe to ever ride the plains and its mysterious, magnificent chief, Quanah Parker.

The Last Drop

Feb 1, 2008 By S. C. Gwynne

Texas has the country’s most precise state water plan. So how is it that every one of our major cities is still on track to run dry in the next fifty years?

Coal Hard Facts

Jan 1, 2007 By S. C. Gwynne

Facing an energy crisis, Texas is on the verge of a solution that will belch about five billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the next forty years. Breathe deeply—while you still can.

Walled Off

Apr 30, 2006 By S. C. Gwynne

As a record number of demonstrators hit the streets this spring, one Texas border town was rolling the dice on a draconian method of dealing with illegal immigrants. And it’s working.

Tree Ring Circus

Apr 1, 2006 By S. C. Gwynne

Why did the feds spend seventeen years pursuing a baseless billion-dollar lawsuit against Houston financier Charles Hurwitz? To help environmentalists take away his old-growth California redwoods. Your tax dollars at work.

Retail Politics

Jan 1, 2006 By S. C. Gwynne

Along a seventeen-mile stretch of Interstate 35 sits a theoretical dividing line between red-state and blue-state America. In Austin, the flagship Whole Foods attracts your typical wine-sipping, tree-hugging, Volvo-driving liberals. In Buda, the massive Cabela’s is a magnet for beer-guzzling, gun-toting, flag-waving conservatives. From these consumer preferences, voting habits are born—but appearances, like tofu dogs and duck decoys, can be deceiving.

Dr. Evil

Aug 31, 2005 By S. C. Gwynne

By almost any measure of performance, including the sheer number of patients who are crippled and maimed, the medical profession has rarely seen anyone like Houston orthopedic surgeon Eric Scheffey. So why did he get to keep his license for so long?

Run With the Devils

May 31, 2005 By S. C. Gwynne

There was a major don’t-try-this-at-home aspect to my two-day ride on this primitive and unpredictable river. But as scary as it was, it was every bit as beautiful.

Safe at Home

Apr 1, 2005 By S. C. Gwynne

Yes, I am one of those parents, the sort who takes his perfectly contented ten-year-old out of a relaxed neighborhood softball league and propels her into the hypercompetitive world of youth tournament sports. But you know what? It’s what Maisie wanted.

The Dallas Morning Blues

Jan 1, 2005 By S. C. Gwynne

Why isn’t this man smiling? If you were the chairman of Belo, the suddenly stumbling media conglomerate, you wouldn’t be smiling either. Then again, Robert Decherd is sure there’s only good news ahead.

Attack Here

Nov 1, 2004 By S. C. Gwynne

The Houston Ship Channel is considered one of the top strategic targets in the U.S.—an enormous bomb waiting to be detonated by terrorists. But what happens if the bomb actually goes off? Brace yourself for a worst-case scenario of the sort the Homeland Security folks are modeling and simulating and staying up late worrying about.

The Daughter Also Rises

Jul 31, 2004 By S. C. Gwynne

Her mom dissed his dad. He defeated her mom. Now Cecile Richards is helping lead the charge to send him—that would be the president of the United States—back to Texas. Nothing personal, mind you.