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TCU Press

Website: http://www.prs.tcu.edu/

TCU Press has traditionally published the history and literature of Texas and the American West. As the press has grown steadily in stature and in its ability to bring credit to its parent university over the last twenty years, it has been praised for publishing regional fiction, which often doesn’t find a market in New York, and for discovering and preserving local history.


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Adversity is my Angel Cover

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Adversity is my Angel

The Life and Career of Raúl H. Castro

Raul H. Castro and Jack August Jr.

Raúl H. Castro was the first Hispanic governor of Arizona, ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia, and Argentina, lawyer, judge, and teacher. His life and career serve as role models, not only to Mexican Americans but to all Americans. Born in Mexico in 1916, in 1926 he moved with his family to Arizona, where his earliest memories include collecting cactus fruit in the desert for food. Thanks to an athletic scholarship, he attended Arizona State Teachers College and later was accepted by the University of Arizona College of Law. He received his Juris Doctor degree and was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1949. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Castro U. S. ambassador to Salvador in 1964 and to Bolivia in 1969. Active in Arizona Democratic Party politics, he was elected governor in 1974 but his term was interrupted by an appointment as ambassador to Argentina. Raul Castro’s story suggests much about the human spirit, the ability to overcome institutional and personal prejudice, and the hope inherent in the American dream.

Alan Birkelbach Cover

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Alan Birkelbach

New and Selected Poems

Alan Birkelbach

The State of Texas has honored Texas Poets Laureate for seventy-three years, but much of their work has gone unpublished and unrecognized. In a significant step toward recognizing the achievements of the Texas Poets Laureate, TCU Press will publish a series of the work of the Poets Laureate, with a volume dedicated to each poet. The series begins with the 2005 and 2006 Texas Poets Laureate, Alan Birkelbach and Red Steagall, and will continue through the next five appointments. These beautiful volumes collect the finest work of each individual poet. While a single volume may stand alone as a valuable selection of a poet’s work, the series as a whole will draw their different voices together into a singular poetic expression of Texas. Alan Birkelbach writes of the Texas landscape and its people with conversational ease, a touch that makes his vividness of description shimmer through each poem’s lines, etching them into the reader’s memory. He balances the ordinary and the phenomenal, the factual and the suppositional, the temporal and the eternal, in poems remarkable for their depth of insight. As Billy Bob Hill writes in his introduction to the volume, “Birkelbach can disguise a mosaic of word music in plain sight hidden in conversational English.”

Baja Oklahoma Cover

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Baja Oklahoma

Dan Jenkins

Dan Jenkins' second best-known novel, Baja Oklahoma, features protagonist Juanita Hutchins, who can cuss and politically commentate with the best of Jenkins' male protagonists. Still convincingly female, though in no way dumb and girly, fortyish Juanita serves drinks to the colorful crew patronizing Herb's Cafe in South Fort Worth, worries herself sick over a hot-to-trot daughter proving too fond of drugs and the dealers who sell them, endures a hypochondriac mother whose whinings would justify murder, dates a fellow middle-ager whose connections with the oil industry are limited to dipstick duty at his filling station—and, by the way, she also hopes to become a singer-songwriter in the real country tradition of Bob Wills and Willie Nelson. That Juanita is way too old to remain a kid with a crazy dream doesn't matter much to her. In between handing out longneck beers to customer-acquaintances battling hot flashes and deciding when boyfriend Slick is finally going to get lucky, Juanita keeps jotting down lyrics reflective of hard-won wisdom and setting them to music composed on her beloved Martin guitar. Too many of her early songwriting results are one-dimensional or derivative, but finally she hits on something both original and heartfelt: a tribute to her beloved home state, warts and all.

Before Texas Changed Cover

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Before Texas Changed

A Fort Worth Boyhood

David Murph

Growing up in Fort Worth during the 1950s never lacked in excitement for David Murph. In his memoir, Murph recalls a mischievous childhood punctuated by adventures in driving, occasional acts of accidental arson, more than one trip to the jailhouse, and countless other tales. The cast of characters includes not only friends and family but also famous figures such as John Scopes, Bobby Morrow, and Frankie Avalon. Murph details an early interest in politics and an unintentional affinity for troublemaking that had more to do with an active imagination and intense curiosity than any ill will. His adventures included broken windows, brushes with blindness, bull riding, and a pet spider monkey, alongside lessons about life and death and the importance of family. Murph’s story brings to life a time when television was new and exciting, parents sided with the law, and people were to be trusted more often than not. As a close friend wrote in his senior yearbook, “it would take a book to recall our adventures.” Murph fondly recalls his active youth with clarity and humor. In many ways, though, Murph’s childhood was not all that unusual. Born in 1943 in Shreveport Louisiana, Murph moved to Tyler, Texas at the age of two with his family. He recalls moving to Fort Worth at the age of seven, feeling excited about his new home, and making new friends in the neighborhood and at school. In a neighborhood established around the time of World War II, he and his friends played war in their backyards. The child of a geologist and a homemaker, Murph vividly recalls the strong influence they were in his life. Murph’s story follows him from early childhood through high school graduation and leaving for college at the University of Texas. His enthusiasm for leaving home is tempered by the reality of what it means to leave his parents and younger brother behind—a sentiment familiar to any college-bound student.

Between the Enemy and Texas Cover

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Between the Enemy and Texas

Parsons's Texas Cavalry in the Civil War

Anne Bailey

Much of the Civil War west of the Mississippi was a war of waiting for action, of foraging already stripped land for an army that supposedly could provision itself, and of disease in camp, while trying to hold out against Union pressure. There were none of the major engagements that characterized the conflict farther east. Instead, small units of Confederate cavalry and infantry skirmished with Federal forces in Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana, trying to hold the western Confederacy together. The many units of Texans who joined this fight had a second objective—to keep the enemy out of their home state by placing themselves “between the enemy and Texas.”

Historian Anne J. Bailey studies one Texas unit, Parsons's Cavalry Brigade, to show how the war west of the Mississippi was fought. Historian Norman D. Brown calls this “the definitive study of Parsons's Cavalry Brigade; the story will not need to be told again.” Exhaustively researched and written with literary grace, Between the Enemy and Texas is a “must” book for anyone interested in the role of mounted troops in the Trans-Mississippi Department.

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Bones for Barnum Brown

Adventures of a Dinosaur Hunter

James O. Farlow

Roland Thaxter Bird, universally and affectionately known to friends and associates as R. T., achieved a kind of Horatio Alger success in the scientific world of dinosaur studies. Forced to drop out of school at a young age by ill health, he was a cowboy who traveled from job to job by motorcycle until he met Barnum Brown, Curator of Vertebrae Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a leader in the study of dinosaurs. Beginning in 1934, Bird spent many years as an employee of the museum and as Brown's right-hand man in the field. His chart of the Howe Quarry in Wyoming, a massive sauropod boneyard, is one of the most complex paleontological charts ever produced and a work of art in its own right. His crowning achievement was the discovery, collection, and interpretation of gigantic Cretaceous dinosaur trackways along the Paluxy River near Glen Rose and at Bandera, Texas. A trackway from Glen Rose is on exhibit at the American Museum and at the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin. His interpretation of these trackways demonstrated that a large carnosaur had pursued and attacked a sauropod, that sauropods migrated in herds, and that, contrary to then-current belief, sauropods were able to support their own weight out of deep water. These behavioral interpretations anticipated later dinosaur studies by at least two decades.

From his first meeting with Barnum Brown to his discoveries at Glen Rose and Bandera, this very human account tells the story of Bird's remarkable work on dinosaurs. In a vibrantly descriptive style, Bird recorded both the intensity and excitement of field work and the careful and painstaking detail of laboratory reconstruction. His memoir presents a vivid picture of camp life with Brown and the inner workings of the famous American Museum of Natural History, and it offers a new and humanizing account of Brown himself, one of the giants of his field.

Bird's memoir has been supplemented with a clear and concise introduction to the field of dinosaur study and with generous illustrations which delineate the various types of dinosaurs.

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The Chicken Hanger

Ben Rehder

 Ricky Delgado works as a chicken hanger at the poultry plant in Rugoso, Texas, a small border town just thirty miles south of Laredo. His quiet, illegal lifestyle is disrupted when he learns that his brother Tomás has been shot and injured shortly after crossing the border. Together, Ricky and Tomás must make a decision: to risk their illegal status and seek justice, or remain silent and endure the injustices common to all “wetbacks” within the states. Meanwhile, Ricky is fighting a battle within his own body, a disease he acquired in the poultry plant, unbeknownst to everyone but the crooked manager and the company’s doctor.

The townspeople of Rugoso have long been used to Mexicans entering the states illegally. The street signs, billboards, and food labels are printed in both English and Spanish to accommodate more consumers. Even the judicial system has a growing number of authorities with Spanish last names, and Herschel Gandy is sick of it. A wealthy Rugoso ranch owner and self-appointed defender of the border, he has taken to firing warning shots at illegals crossing over on his ranch. But when he finds a bloodied backpack near the place he had been shooting, the repercussions of his cover-up game affect the entire town. 

Warren Coleman, the best border patrol agent in Rugoso, has been struggling with his conscience since allowing a trio of illegal aliens to cross one morning. One was obviously injured. After stopping a van smuggling drugs over the border, Warren shoots and kills the driver in his partner’s defense. He is immediately thrown into national spotlight for his heroism, or brutality, depending on the source. While visiting his partner in the hospital, Warren again runs into the illegal with the injured hand. Fearing the consequences of his decisions, Warren must decide between leaving Rugoso for a new start, or pursuing his growing suspicion that there is more to discover about the Mexican’s injury. 

The Chicken Hanger confronts the present-day controversy of politics and prejudice along the Texas-Mexico border. Rehder weaves between multiple perspectives and opinions of those protecting America and those hoping to become Americans, and asks whether a man’s worth is measured by his citizenship, or by the life he leads. Long-standing arguments about border control in the South and the motives of opposing sides create a suspenseful tale of one illegal immigrant’s fight for justice in the land of the free.

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Comanche Sundown

Jan Reid

Comanche Sundown is the story of Quanah Parker and a freed slave named Bose Ikard. Quanah and Bose try to kill each other in a brutal fight on horseback in West Texas. But over time, through the chaos of war they forge a friendship. They change from violent unformed youths into men of courage and decency. In 2011, Comanche Sundown won the Jesse H. Jones Award for fiction from the TIL.

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Comfort and Mirth

Lori Joan Swick

Comfort and Mirth offers a rare glimpse into the capital city of Texas during the years of World War I, the formation of the Texas suffrage movement, the prohibition, and the first round of controversies over the Jim Crow Laws. It traces the growth of Austin from a frontier town to a cosmopolitan southwestern city including such events as the arrival of the first motorcars to the dusty streets Congress Avenue, the opening of the Hancock Opera House, the formation of Elizabet Ney’s sculpture museum in Hyde Park, and the construction, flooding, and reconstruction of the great dam to form the Texas Hill Country lake system. Set early in the twentieth century, this novel traces a young woman’s journey of self-discovery and struggle for self-empowerment. Camille Abernathy leaves her home and widowed mother in Seattle to move to Austin with her worldly new husband who has accepted a position as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas. As she devotes herself to the tasks required to create a home of ease and elegance for her husband and her children, she is drawn into a whirling social circle of professors’ wives and introduced to the world of urban opulence and hypocrisy. Through the letters she writes to her mother, Camille learns to unravel the complexities of her new life by trusting in her natural instincts and relying on her greatest innate strengths—depth of philosophical and spiritual wisdom.

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Crossing Rio Pecos

Patrick Dearen

The Pecos River flows snake-like out of New Mexico and across West Texas before striking the Rio Grande. In frontier Texas, the Pecos was more moat than river—a deadly barrier of quicksand, treacherous currents, and impossibly steep banks. Only at its crossings, with legendary names such as Horsehead and Pontoon, could travelers hope to gain passage. Even if the river proved obliging, Indian raiders and outlaws often did not.

Long after irrigation and dams rendered the river a polluted trickle, Patrick Dearen went seeking out the crossings and the stories behind them. In Crossing Rio Pecos—a follow-up to his Castle Gap and the Pecos Frontier—he draws upon years of research to relate the history and folklore of all the crossings—Horsehead, Pontoon, Pope’s, Emigrant, Salt, Spanish Dam, Adobe, “S,” and Lancaster. Meticulously documented, Crossing Rio Pecos emerges as the definitive study of these gateways which were so vital to the opening of the western frontier.

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