Anyone who knows executive editor Paul Burka would have a hard time imagining him as a cowboy, so perhaps it seems farfetched that he was the one to write this month’s story about the plight of a small working ranch in Uvalde (“Home on the Range”). “I’m a native Texan,” he says, “but I’m from Galveston, where you don’t wear boots or cowboy hats. I showed up in my white tennis shoes and a golf country club hat and hoped for the best.” Then there was the matter of riding. “Horses and I arrived at an understanding on my honeymoon,” he says. “My wife and I took a fourteen-mile ride to the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains, but for me it was a twelve-mile ride and a two-mile walk. I decided at that point that I wouldn’t bother horses if they wouldn’t bother me.” Yet, as it happens, Paul (who usually covers politics) had precisely the right feel for this classic Texas tale, which he says is his favorite story since he wrote about South Texas power broker Clinton Manges in 1984. “The themes are so rich: a family trying to hold on to a way of life that really has no place in the modern world, and yet you end up thinking that they’re right and the world is wrong. This is a story about people who are incredibly genuine and likable. I really wanted them to succeed, but every time I went out there, I found myself wondering if they would.”
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