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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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TCU Press

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Comfort and Mirth Cover

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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.

Devils River Cover

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Devils River

Treacherous Twin to the Pecos: 1535-1900

Patrick Dearen

Devils River examines the history of this notorious river in southwestern Texas. Dearen describes the Spanish explorers and settlers from the Americas who encountered the river, their difficulties in traversing the region, and relates hardships, ranging from Indian attacks, impassable fords, unpredictable weather, and long routes with little water.  

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Dictionary of the American West

Win Blevins

Did you ever need to spell “dogie” (as in, get-along-little), or need to know what a “sakey” is? This is the book that can tell you how to spell, pronounce, and define over 5,000 terms relative to the American West.

Want to know what a “breachy” cow is? Turn to page 43 to learn that it’s an adjective used to describe a cow that has a tendency to find her way through fences where she isn’t supposed to be. Describes some teenagers we know…

Spend hours perusing the dictionary at random, or read straight through to give you a flavor of the West from its beginnings to contemporary days. Laced with photographs and maps, the Dictionary of the American West will make you sound like an expert on all things Western, even if you don’t know your dingus from a dinner plate.

Compiled of words brought into English from Native Americans, emigrants, Mormons, Hispanics, migrant workers, loggers, and fur trappers, the dictionary opens up history and culture in an enchanting way. From “Aarigaa!” to “zopilote,” the Dictionary of the American West is a “valuable book, a treasure for any literate American’s library.” (Tony Hillerman)

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Dinosaur Highway

A History of Dinosaur Valley State Park

Laurie Jasinski

Where the Paluxy River now winds through the North Texas Hill Country, the great lizards of prehistory once roamed, leaving their impressive footprints deep in the limy sludge of what would become the earth’s Cretaceous layer. It wouldn’t be until a summer day in 1909, however, when George Adams went splashing along the creekbed, that chance and shifting sediments would reveal these stony traces of an ancient past. Young Adams’s first discovery of dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River Valley, near the small community of Glen Rose, Texas, came more than one hundred million years after the reign of the dinosaurs. During this prehistoric era, herds of lumbering “sauropods” and tri-toed, carnivorous “theropods” made their way along what was then an ancient “dinosaur highway.” Today, their long-ago footsteps are immortalized in the limestone of the riverbed, arousing the curiosity of picnickers and paleontologists alike. Indeed, nearly a century after their first discovery, the “stony oddities” of Somervell County continue to draw Saturday-afternoon tourists, renowned scholars, and dinosaur enthusiasts from across the nation and around the globe. In her careful, and colorful, history of Dinosaur Valley State Park, Jasinski deftly interweaves millennia of geological time with local legend, old photographs, and quirky anecdotes of the people who have called the valley home. Beginning with the valley’s “first visitors”---the dinosaurs---Jasinski traces the area’s history through to the decades of the twentieth century, when new track sites continued to be discovered, and visitors and locals continued to leave their own material imprint upon the changing landscape. The book reaches its culmination in the account of the hard-won battle fought by Somervell residents and officials during the latter decades of the century to secure Dinosaur Valley’s preservation as a state park.

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Dividing Western Waters

Mark Wilmer and Arizona v. California

Jack L. August

The Scopes Monkey Trial, the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Brown v the Board of Education, and even subsequent televised high profile murder trials pale in comparison to Arizona v California, argues author Jack August in Dividing Western Waters, August’s look at Arizona’s Herculean legal and political battle for an equitable share of the Colorado River. To this day Arizona v California is still influential.

By the time Mark Wilmer settled in the Salt River Valley in the early 1930s, he realized that four basic commodities made possible civilization in the arid West: land, air, sunshine, and water. For Arizona, the seminal water case, Arizona v California, the longest Supreme Court case in American history (1952–1963), constituted an important step in the construction of the Central Arizona Project (CAP), a plan crucial for the development of Arizona’s economic livelihood. The unique qualities of water framed Wilmer’s role in the history of the arid Southwest and defined his towering professional career. Wilmer’s analysis of the Supreme Court case caused him to change legal tactics and, in so doing, he changed the course of the history of the American West.

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Echoes of Glory

Robert Flynn

ROBERT FLYNN is a native of Chillicothe, Texas, a town so small, he says, that one has to travel to nearby Quanah to have a coincidence. Flynn avers that his life’s work is “The Search for Morals, Ethics, and Religion, or at least a good story in Texas and lesser known parts of the world,” and his novels, North to Yesterday, In the House of the Lord, The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope, Wanderer Springs, The Last Klick, The Devil’s Tiger (co-authored with the late Dan Klepper), and Tie-Fast Country, attest to that fact. He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Jean.

Elmer Kelton Cover

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Elmer Kelton

Essays and Memories

Judy Alter and James Ward Lee

Elmer Kelton was a modest, kind man, always willing to advise a struggling writer or write a blurb for a first time published author, or assign publishing rights to his six masterpieces to a small university press. TCU Press is grateful for Kelton's work, and this volume attempts to explore what it is that made Elmer Kelton its leading author.

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Essays on the Presidents

Principles and Politics

Paul Boller

Since he first began writing in the 1950s, Dr. Paul F. Boller Jr. has had a passion for sharing the humorous, intriguing, and little-known or widely misunderstood aspects of the American presidency. Boller has authored many beloved books on American presidents, the first ladies, presidential anecdotes, quotes, campaign strategies, and common myths.

This wide variety of topics has been collected for the first time in Essays on the Presidents, along with new essays and forewords. Boller's prose, distinct and inviting, causes the reader to see what is often overlooked in the history of American presidents: their humanity. Boller has searched for those patriotic narratives we have all heard at some point in our lives—whether from our schoolteachers, coworkers, or various trivia books—and corrects the misconceptions many Americans deem as truth in a lighthearted and truly characteristic voice. From Washington's relationship with the Jews to the electioneering and stump-speaking associated with American presidential campaigns, readers will not only see the significant changes in the presidential office since its conception, but also Boller’s lifetime of research and his expertise in the field of American history. Personality—of the most interesting presidents and of Boller himself—is an important theme throughout this collection.

The in-depth retelling of treasured American stories will captivate readers and keep them exploring for more nuggets of truth. Boller tracks the relationship between Americans and the presidents, uncovering the intricate nature of presidential responsibilities and the remarkable men whose leadership shaped the office into what it is today. Celebrating the commanders-in-chief and the career of the nationally-recognized American historian and TCU Emeritus Professor of political science, Essays on the Presidents serves as a unique perspective on American history that fans of both Boller and the presidents will enjoy.

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Fort Benning Blues

Mark Busby

If you've never even been to Southeast Asia, can you be a Vietnam veteran? In a novel that captures the life and times of a generation, Mark Busby takes us on a journey through an era of hippies, the shootings at Kent State University, integration, and Woodstock. Fort Benning Blues tells the story of Vietnam from this side of the ocean.

Drafted in 1969, Jeff Adams faces a war he doesn't understand. While trying to delay the inevitable tour of duty in Vietnam, Adams attends Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, desperately hoping Nixon will achieve “peace with honor” before he graduates. The Army's job is to weed out the “duds,” “turkeys,” and “dummies” in an effort to keep not only the officers but also the men under their command alive in the rice paddies of Vietnam. It doesn't take long for the stress to create casualties.

Lieutenant Rancek, Adams' training officer at OCS, is ready to cut candidates from the program for any perceived weakness. He does this, not for the Army, but because he wants only the best “. . . leading the platoon on my right” when he goes to Vietnam.

Hugh Budwell, one of Adams' roommates, brings the laid-back spirit of California with him to Fort Benning. Tired of practicing estate law, he joins the Army to relieve the boredom he feels pervades his life. About Officer Candidate School, Budwell states, “If I wanted to go through it without any trouble, I'd be wondering about myself.”

Candidate Patrick “Sheriff” Garrett, a black southerner, spends a night with Adams in the low-crawl pit after they both raise Rancek's ire. Expecting racism when he joined the Army, Garrett copes better than most with the rigors of Officer Candidate School.

Busby uses song lyrics, newspaper headlines, and the jargon of the era to bring the sixties and seventies alive again. Henry Kissinger is described as “Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove” and Lieutenant William “Rusty” Calley as “Howdy Doody in uniform.” Of My Lai, Busby says, “At Fort Benning everybody took those actions as a matter of course.”

As America continues to try to comprehend the effects of one of the most transforming eras in our history, Fort Benning Blues adds another perspective to the meaning of being a Vietnam veteran.

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