Oral History

Oral histories celebrate the power of the primary source. For it’s the firsthand observer to history and his unique imprint of remembrances that are the building blocks of this form of storytelling. Here, seventeen moments from our modern era—some from our darkest hours, others from our greatest triumphs—are reconstructed with tick-tock precision by weaving together the first-persons accounts of dozens (if not hundreds) of sources.

True Crime |
August 2, 2016

96 Minutes

At 11:48 a.m. on August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman began firing his rifle from the top of the University of Texas Tower at anyone and everyone in his sights. At 1:24 p.m., he was gunned down himself. The lives of the people who witnessed the sniper’s spree firsthand would never

Film & TV |
May 14, 2015

Urban Cowboy Turns 35

It was part musical, part dance movie, and part love story, and in June 1980 it unleashed an unprecedented fervor for country music, Western wear, and, yes, mechanical bulls. More than three decades later, the film’s stars (including John Travolta, Debra Winger, Mickey Gilley, and Johnny Lee) and many Gilley’s regulars recall the movie that made America fall in love with Texas.

Texas History |
January 21, 2013

When the Sky Ran Dry

Bad as the current drought is, it has yet to match the most arid spell in Texas history. Nearly two dozen survivors of the fifties drought remember the time it never rained.

Music |
January 21, 2013

That ’70s Show

Forty years ago, Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff, and a whole host of Texas misfits grew their hair long, snubbed Nashville, and brought the hippies and rednecks together. The birth of outlaw country changed country music forever.

Film & TV |
January 21, 2013

The Spirit of ’76

How Matthew McConaughey got discovered, why Renée Zellweger’s part is so small, why some of the actresses can’t eat ketchup to this day, and everything else you didn’t know about the making of the classic high school flick Dazed and Confused.

Texas History |
January 20, 2013

Ring of Fire

On November 18, 1999, at 2:42 a.m., the most passionately observed collegiate tradition in Texas—if not the world—came crashing down. Nearly sixty people were on top of the Texas A&M Bonfire when the million-pound structure collapsed, killing twelve, wounding dozens more, and eventually leading to the suspension of the ninety-year-old

Books |
January 20, 2013

True West

Twenty-five years ago, Larry McMurtry published a novel called Lonesome Dove—and Texas hasn’t looked the same since. Listen in as more than thirty writers, critics, producers, and actors, from Peter Bogdonavich and Dave Hickey to Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, and Anjelica Huston, tell the stories behind the book (and

Film & TV |
January 20, 2013

Picture Perfect

Why Peter Bogdanovich filmed in black and white, who discovered Cybill Shepherd, which onetime soap opera diva read for the role of Jacy, and other secrets of the making of ‘The Last Picture Show.’ Plus: A few words from the late Ben Johnson.

Music |
January 20, 2013

Dreaming of Her

On March 31, 1995, South Texas came to a standstill as the shocking news spread that the hugely popular Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez had been shot and killed in Corpus Christi. Fifteen years later, the people who knew Selena best recall the life and devastating death of a star

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

The Republic of Chad

Eight years ago, the closest presidential election ever was settled in a political street fight. In this oral history of the Florida recount, the victors recall the unbelievable twists and turns that put George W. Bush in the White House.

Oral History |
December 1, 2011

Trial by Fire

It will be remembered as the year of smoke and devastation, as drought-fueled flames wreaked unprecedented havoc across Texas, from Bastrop County to Possum Kingdom. A photographic and oral history of the 2011 wildfires.

Texas History |
July 20, 2009

Walking on the Moon

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history as the first humans to set foot on the surface of the moon. Forty years later, the researchers, astronauts, engineers, scientists, and NASA officials who made the voyage possible remember the day the Eagle landed.

Texas History |
March 31, 2008

The Fire That Time

On April 19, 1993, the world watched as the Branch Davidian compound, outside Waco, burned to the ground after a 51-day standoff. Fifteen years later, witnesses and participants—from federal agents to loyal followers of David Koresh—remember what they saw during the deadliest law enforcement operation in U.S. history.

Texas History |
March 31, 2007

Law of the Land

Nearly two centuries after their forebears protected colonists from Indian raids, the Texas Rangers are alive and well and wrestling with the realities of the twenty-first century. In their own words, the iconic crime fighters explain how their world has changed—and what it takes to battle the latest generation of

Music |
April 30, 2000

Gotta Lubbock

Buddy Holly. Waylon Jennings. Carolyn Hester. The Hancocks. The Flatlanders. An oral history of the state's most storied music scene.