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- 171 Jan Reid d Comanches, Cowboys, and a Political Rock Star I learned not long ago that I’ve exceeded the average life expectancy of alligators and great horned owls. I sure haven’t had to work as hard for my dinners, and my history of wise choices is not compelling. But I take some satisfaction in my belief that my two best books came after I qualified for Social Security. One is my second novel, Comanche Sundown, which TCU Press published in 2010. The research and writing of the novel consumed twenty-­ five years, which is no way to make a living. The protagonists are Quanah Parker, the half-white last war chief of the Comanches, and Bose Ikard, a freed slave, Texas cowboy, and drover on trail drives to New Mexico Territory and Colorado. Quanah’s mother was Cynthia Ann Parker, stolen at age nine by Nocona, the warrior she later loved and married; she was the cause célèbre of Texans enraged by the Comanches’ kidnapping and captivity of women and children. Bose Ikard (pronounced eye-curd) was the slave of a homeopathic doctor who freed him toward the end of the War of Northern Aggression, as Southerners characterized the Civil War, but never acknowledged him as the son he clearly was. Quanah and Bose became mirror images, in my mind. They were both half-breeds, as mixed-bloods were called back then, and both knew the humiliation and isolation of being cast out for reasons of their blood. The supporting cast took on two of Quanah’s many wives, his mother and father, Pat Garrett, Billy the Kid, Bat Masterson, the bogus Comanche shaman Isa-tai, General William T. Sherman, and Ranald Mackenzie, commander of a cavalry largely composed of freed slaves. Writing that novel was like being aboard a runaway horse or mule. I could neither give up and jump off nor rein the beast in. The other book I’m most proud of is Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards, which the University of Texas Press published jan reid - 172 in 2012. Ann was a one-term governor of Texas, from 1990 to 1994. She became a media superstar one night in 1988 with a bravura performance as keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention whose presidential nominee was the Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. Ann is best known for her delivery of a line about George Herbert Walker Bush, then the vice president and soon to be president : “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” In 1994, that man’s son, George W. Bush, took her down handily in her bid for reelection, a payback that seemed almost­Shakespearean. Ann was a recovered alcoholic, and political foes in both parties vilified her as a closet lesbian. But she was married for almost thirty years to David Richards, a distinguished civil and voting rights attorney , and for the last seventeen years of her life she went steady, as they put it, with Edwin “Bud” Shrake, a charismatic novelist, screenwriter , playwright, and globe-roaming star in the early days of Sports Illustrated . Ann’s political career was colorful and brief. But she was the first ardent feminist elected to major high office in the United States. Ann put many of the cracks in the glass ceiling that’s much discussed today. Hillary Clinton considered Ann her mentor when she was first lady and US senator from New York. I anticipated objection to my writing a biography of Ann because I am a man. But that was part of the challenge and reward. Although I devoted a great deal of care to the female characters in my unprolific fiction, my journalistic career had never afforded me much opportunity to write about women. But the most daunting obstacle to my writing a biography of Ann was that for twenty years she was my friend. A few months ago a friend in the business world asked me with a grin, “Are you going to explain how you jumped from Quanah Parker to Ann Richards?” Now that a kind editor has asked, I suppose I am. * * * In the summer of 1984 my wife Dorothy Browne, my stepdaughter Lila, her best friend Katy, and I were on a plane landing at the Dallas–Fort Worth airport. I had won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the first real money I’d ever...


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