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Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the…
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Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians,… (edition 2018)

by Roger D. Hodge (Author)

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"An intoxicating, singularly illuminating history of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of Roger D. Hodge's ranching family. What brought the author's family to Texas? What is it about Texas that for centuries has exerted a powerful allure for adventurers and scoundrels, dreamers and desperate souls, outlaws and outliers? In search of answers, Hodge travels across his home state--which he loves and hates in shifting measure--tracing the wanderings of his ancestors into forgotten histories along vanished roads. Here is an unsentimental, keenly insightful attempt to grapple with all that makes Texas so magical, punishing, and polarizing. Here is a spellbindingly evocative portrait of the borderlands--with its brutal history of colonization, conquest, and genocide; where stories of death and drugs and desperation play out daily. And here is a contemplation of what it means that the ranching industry that has sustained families like Hodge's for almost two centuries is quickly fading away, taking with it a part of our larger, deep-rooted cultural inheritance."--Jacket.… (more)
Member:coffeecrusader
Title:Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands
Authors:Roger D. Hodge (Author)
Info:Vintage (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 368 pages
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Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands by Roger D. Hodge

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This was not what I expected. I was expecting a book about the Hodge family and their history and genealogy. What I got was part travelogue; part history of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico; part family history; part current events.

Once the travelogue part was gone over, the history part was interesting. So was the current events where the problems occurring at the border are explained. I was fascinated by what the Border Patrol and Customs are doing to stop illegal aliens from crossing the border as well as illicit drugs and contraband. More is being done than we realize so this makes this book timely. I wish there were more of the Hodge/Wilson family history. I would have liked to see how people survived this land where lawlessness reigned. But the tales of the Natives, the Spaniards, the Mexicans, and the Americans coming (more likely clashing) together in these lands made this book. I am glad I read it. ( )
1 vote Sheila1957 | Aug 18, 2018 |
TEXAS HISTORY/BIOGRAPHY
Roger D. Hodge
Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands
Alfred A. Knopf
Hardcover, 978-0-3079-6140-2 (also available as an e-book and an audiobook), 368 pgs., $28.95
October 10, 2017

Texas, with its expanses of still-wild vistas, lends itself to the mythical. Historical attempts to settle and tame the borderlands have often proved ephemeral. The evidence is found in pictographs and petroglyphs (“North America’s oldest surviving books”) throughout the Trans-Pecos. But Rodger D. Hodge’s family, arriving in the Devils River country in the second half of the nineteenth century, settled and stayed. Why? Why this land? What possessed them to choose such a forbidding landscape, which remains “fantastically inaccessible,” on which to stake their future, working Brangus cattle, Rambouillet sheep, and Angora goats?

When he was named editor of Harper’s Magazine in 2006, Hodge was surprised to be described as a “Texan” by a New York Times reporter. “I never expected to be a professional Texan,” he writes, “one of those writers who wear the lone star like a brand.” Who am I? How does the place you are from shape you? Why did Hodge’s ancestors come to Texas? He seems to be trying to make his peace with something, but we’re never quite sure what.

Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands, the latest nonfiction from The Intercept’s Hodge, is a combination of journalism and memoir, producing an expansive—almost panoramic—history of Texas viewed through the lens of Hodge family history. The story of his family is a microcosm of the settlement of the American West.

Needing more than “epic histories sweep[ing] high above the hard ground of lived experience,” through six states and fifteen Texas counties, Hodge drives in the footsteps of his predecessors, beginning in Missouri, following the Osage Trace to Texas. Having no primary source from his relatives, Hodge employs a Washington Irving (who met Sam Houston) account of his travels on the road to Texas, and Frederick Law Olmsted’s account of his travels through Texas, to illuminate the Hodge pioneer journey.

Enhanced by maps and photographs, especially an arresting cover photo of a cloud-to-ground lightning strike in the West Texas mountains lighting up a field of wooden crosses in the foreground, Texas Blood is often mesmerizing, intermittently overwrought, always evocative. Hodge is capable of the lyrical (“the stream turbulent, rapid, pink with mud and minerals, alkaline and briny, searching for the crossing”), though his is an unsentimental journey. Sometimes terse, sometimes voluble, Hodge can drip with derision (“Quakers and German liberals and utopian Frenchmen and Poles who sought to create a New Jerusalem but instead simply added to the entrepreneurial energies of Dallas”), as well as inspire, as in the title of the first chapter, “Southwest Toward Home,” with its nod to Willie Morris’s North Toward Home.

Though it can be frustrating and ends abruptly, feeling unfinished, Texas Blood is a remarkable synthesis of the general and the personal, the concrete and the metaphysical.

Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life. ( )
  TexasBookLover | Nov 24, 2017 |
I wanted to like this book much more than I actually did. Parts were riveting, but how to find those parts? It is presented by the publisher as "an unsentimental, keenly insightful attempt to grapple with all that makes Texas...". A favorable review describes it as a "melange of family history, memoir, research and travelogue". I find the best words to describe it the author's own in describing an early Frederick Law Olmstead book from which he freely quotes "fascinating if slightly tedious book". It didn't seem that Hodge or his editors really got the concept of "book". Rather this reads like a collection of articles without the sense of order that would allow the reader to pick and choose what portions were of interest. It covers everything from Yuma to Homeland Security to Cormac McCarthy to slavery; Texas morphs into the Southwest and parts of Mexico. The historical figure John Joel Glanton is presented in two different areas of the book with seemingly no assumption the reader will actually read the entire book. The author seems unable to use one word where ten will do and desires to include every bit of research, no matter how unsuccessful. ( )
1 vote MM_Jones | Nov 5, 2017 |
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"An intoxicating, singularly illuminating history of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of Roger D. Hodge's ranching family. What brought the author's family to Texas? What is it about Texas that for centuries has exerted a powerful allure for adventurers and scoundrels, dreamers and desperate souls, outlaws and outliers? In search of answers, Hodge travels across his home state--which he loves and hates in shifting measure--tracing the wanderings of his ancestors into forgotten histories along vanished roads. Here is an unsentimental, keenly insightful attempt to grapple with all that makes Texas so magical, punishing, and polarizing. Here is a spellbindingly evocative portrait of the borderlands--with its brutal history of colonization, conquest, and genocide; where stories of death and drugs and desperation play out daily. And here is a contemplation of what it means that the ranching industry that has sustained families like Hodge's for almost two centuries is quickly fading away, taking with it a part of our larger, deep-rooted cultural inheritance."--Jacket.

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