In Texas, James A. Michener varies his usual format for place-based historical novels: He sets Texas within a context of an imaginary task force whose job it is to decide what the state’s students learn about Texas history and how they should they learn it.
The task force allows Michener to present the history of the lone star state beginning with Spanish explorations in the 1500s up to the 1980s and to also provide commentary and interpretations of that history.
Michener clearly likes Texans, even when he dislikes some of the things they do.
Readers get Michener’s familiar history-by-the-eras formula with a unique Texas twist: Michener presents Texas as a state composed of seven state-sized, unique areas.
What makes Texas a state seems to be those areas’ sense of their superiority to any place that’s not Texas.
Texas is pure Michener: meticulously research, lyrically written, and almost flawlessly edited.
I can’t say that I liked the Texans I encountered in the pages of Texas, but I’m glad I read the novel.
It’s good preparation for understanding issues America is wrestling with today on its Southern border and elsewhere across the country: lack of water, climatic changes, and the need for migrant workers and the desire to restrict immigration.
Texas by James A. Michener
Random House. ©1985. 1096 p.
1985 bestseller #2; my grade: A
©2019 Linda G. Aragoni