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God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State

by Lawrence Wright

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
259577,577 (3.78)6
"With humor and the biting insight of a native, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas, while holding the stereotypes up for rigorous scrutiny. God Save Texas is a journey through the most controversial state in America. It is a red state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn't elected a Democrat to a statewide office in more than twenty years; but it is also a state in which minorities already form a majority (including the largest number of Muslim adherents). The cities are blue and among the most diverse in the nation. Oil is still king but Texas now leads California in technology exports. The Texas economic model of low taxes and minimal regulation has produced extraordinary growth but also striking income disparities. Texas looks a lot like the America that Donald Trump wants to create. And Wright's profound portrait of the state not only reflects our country back as it is, but as it was and as it might be"--"Explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas, while holding the stereotypes up for rigorous scrutiny. God Save Texas is a journey through the most controversial state in America. It is a red state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn't elected a Democrat to a statewide office in more than twenty years; but it is also a state in which minorities already form a majority (including the largest number of Muslim adherents). The cities are blue and among the most diverse in the nation. Oil is still king but Texas now leads California in technology exports. The Texas economic model of low taxes and minimal regulation has produced extraordinary growth but also striking income disparities. Texas looks a lot like the America that Donald Trump wants to create. And Wright's profound portrait of the state not only reflects our country back as it is, but as it was and as it might be"--… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
The author combines memories and history in a funny, sad, and sometimes unbelievable Texas experience.

Audiobook ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
A well-written, personal look at the Lonestar state. Wright, a native Texan, looks at the state’s history to try to understand its present. It is clear that Wright both loves and is often frustrated by his home state. He delves deep into the politics of the state, which is quickly becoming one of the most populous, and therefor politically relevant, in the country. The author explores Texas’ strange mix of red and blue - it’s a red state, but there are islands of blue captures by cities, such as Austin. Issues of immigration play out in the state as well due to its size and location. ( )
  redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
Good summer read about the culture and politics of Texas. It captured its complexities and idiosyncrasies well, from the Alamo, to Ann Richards to George W. Bush to Rick Perry. Best line: There is AM Texas and FM Texas. Bogged down a bit in the political wranglings over specific pieces of legislation that slowed down an otherwise interesting book. ( )
1 vote Mark.Kosminskas | Aug 25, 2018 |
Native son, Lawrence Wright, has turned in a tour du force on his home state of Texas - the good, the bad & the ugly. While he loves his native state and is eloquent of it's natural beauty and the friendliness of its inhabitants, he is under no illusions about the pernicious, nature of its current politicians, especially the Texas Republican party that has controlled the state for the past 25 years.

It's platform as outlined in his book is a recipe for reactionary right politics:

• US government surrender all of its authority over abortion back to the states
• Federal laws permitting abortion be ignored
• IRS, EPA, Dept. of Education be abolished
• traffic enforcement cameras be removed
• photo ID be required of all voters
• Federal Reserve system be abolished and precious metals be reinstituted as the standard for the US dollar
• minimum wage law be repealed
• US withdraw from the United Nations and from international trade agreements like NAFTA
• Build the border wall

He lays his hope for the state on its changing demographics. Let's hope so. This book is required reading for anyone who wants to understand what will soon be the most populous state in the country. ( )
  etxgardener | May 29, 2018 |
TEXAS POLITICS/SOCIAL SCIENCES
Lawrence Wright
God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State
Alfred A. Knopf
Hardcover, 978-0-5255-2010-4, (also available as an e-book, on Audible, and as a large-print paperback), 368 pgs., $27.95
April 17, 2018

In a former life, I was a paralegal for an international law firm in Dallas. During a conversation with a lawyer from Philadelphia, he told me something astonishing. According to him, neither does Pennsylvania require years of state history in school curriculum, nor do automobile manufacturers create Pennsylvania-edition SUVs. He’d never experienced anything like the Texas identity juggernaut and wanted me to explain it. I’m going to send him an email recommending Lawrence Wright’s new book.

Wright focuses his razor-sharp lens inward and on his home state in God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State. Austinite Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and author of ten books of nonfiction, including Pulitzer Prize winner The Looming Tower (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006). God Save Texas is history lesson, cultural criticism, reporting, and memoir. By turns funny and fond, disgusted and resigned, Wright defaults to weary exasperation, but he can’t deny that only Texas feels like home.

God Save Texas is written in first person, rare for Wright. When he references “my friend Steve,” he is referring to beloved Texas writer Stephen Harrigan, with whom he has been close friends for decades and frequently debates questions of Texas’s hegemonic personality. Wright claims you can get a crash course in Texan-ness by perusing the merchandise at Buc-ee’s, which embodies Texas archetypes — “a low-brow society … that finds its fullest expression in a truck stop on the interstate.” This is harsh. Wright names the usual culprits: rugged individualism, simple patriotism, isolationism, nostalgia for a past that mostly never was, insubordination, braggadocio. “It’s an irony that the figure who most embodies the values people associate with [Texas],” Wright notes, “is a narcissistic Manhattan billionaire now sitting in the Oval Office.”

Wright accuses Texas of “[nurturing] an immature political culture” that has harmed not only itself, but the entire country, because “what happens here tends to disproportionately affect the rest of the nation,” from textbooks to undemocratic redistricting schemes to the Tea Party to Alex Jones. Texas simultaneously reflects frontier myths and predicts the future. Thankfully, as Wright admits, the old stereotypes are softening around the edges with new stereotypes — hipsters, musicians, technology titans, and a growing artistic community. Texas has plenty to be proud of, and cautious optimism is excused.

Wright interjects personal anecdotes to enliven the facts and figures, sometimes approaching stream of consciousness. If you live in Texas and are sentient, then you won’t find surprises in God Save Texas. If you haven’t been paying attention, it’s a fine primer on policy, and it makes a collective impact gathered in one volume.

I admire Wright’s work and his brain. He’s a smart guy with a dry humor and a thoughtful, precise manner, though he meanders periodically here. The conclusion is disappointing because there isn’t one; I wanted a grand summation of the thesis, but God Save Texas ends abruptly.

Wright is conflicted, so why does he live here? For the same reason I do. Like Wright, I have left and returned. I have tried to be someone else, somewhere else, but those places aren’t home. And to paraphrase from Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird, Texas is mine, too, and I refuse to surrender it.

Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life. ( )
  TexasBookLover | Apr 10, 2018 |
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"With humor and the biting insight of a native, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas, while holding the stereotypes up for rigorous scrutiny. God Save Texas is a journey through the most controversial state in America. It is a red state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn't elected a Democrat to a statewide office in more than twenty years; but it is also a state in which minorities already form a majority (including the largest number of Muslim adherents). The cities are blue and among the most diverse in the nation. Oil is still king but Texas now leads California in technology exports. The Texas economic model of low taxes and minimal regulation has produced extraordinary growth but also striking income disparities. Texas looks a lot like the America that Donald Trump wants to create. And Wright's profound portrait of the state not only reflects our country back as it is, but as it was and as it might be"--"Explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas, while holding the stereotypes up for rigorous scrutiny. God Save Texas is a journey through the most controversial state in America. It is a red state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn't elected a Democrat to a statewide office in more than twenty years; but it is also a state in which minorities already form a majority (including the largest number of Muslim adherents). The cities are blue and among the most diverse in the nation. Oil is still king but Texas now leads California in technology exports. The Texas economic model of low taxes and minimal regulation has produced extraordinary growth but also striking income disparities. Texas looks a lot like the America that Donald Trump wants to create. And Wright's profound portrait of the state not only reflects our country back as it is, but as it was and as it might be"--

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