In an increasingly liberal America the market for books that explain why Texas remains steadfastly conservative seems to only grow. The two latest entries are Princeton University professor Robert Wuthnow’s Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State (Princeton University Press) and Texas Republican operative Wayne Thorburn’s Red State: An Insider’s Story of How the GOP Came to Dominate Texas Politics (UT Press). They’re very different tomes; Wuthnow is interested in how religion and culture shape Texas’s political ideology, while Thorburn sticks to the nuts-and-bolts of electoral politics. The two books stake out such distinctly complementary territory that they might best be read together. But if you must choose one—and non-academic readers may choose fewer than one—this rundown will help you decide.

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