Rachel's Reviews > Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans

Lone Star by T.R. Fehrenbach
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's review
Dec 29, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012-book-challenge-reads, non-fiction
Read from February 01 to September 12, 2012

With so many friends I've come to know living in the great state of Texas I wanted to learn a bit more. Of course no children's-sized version would do for this head-strong girl, I dove right in. I approached this book knowing I just wanted to learn some new things about Texas. In no way did I expect to remember all the information I'd read.

I actually enjoyed this book, despite my sometimes grumbling about how long it was taking me (ended up being 7 months!) or something about the history I didn't care for, such as the constant murder and danger on the frontier. It's practically an exhaustive book on the history of Texas! It takes you from the very earliest times of the Indians and explorers all the way into the 20th century when the book was written (1983). That's what makes this book so special.

"A tremendous amount of Texas historical material exists...All this varied writing contains bits of exciting information and occasional gems of insight, but it tends to be drowned in detail, littered with trivia, and constricted in perspective...the state is so wide and varied, and so rich in ceaseless action, that the student trying to grasp the "feel" and the meaning of Texas's place in American history is often baffled. Lone Star was written in an attempt to fill this void and correlate the whole." (p.xiii)

Texas has an amazing and rich history. It also is one of the only states that was a frontier in the 20th century, which I hadn't taken note of before. The reason for this can be summed up with three reasons: 1. Indians, 2. Conflict with the Mexican government, 3. Completely unique situations unknown to the remaining 49 states in our country. All in all, from 1519 to 1848, Texas was claimed by 6 countries: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and the United States of America. Each left it's mark on this great state.

There were 5 very pivotal points in Texas' history, though more were covered in the book than I've included here:

The Indians & Spanish Texas: 1690-1821
Republic of Texas: 1836-1845
Statehood, Confederate Texas, Expansion: 1845-1865
Reconstructions years: 1865-1876
Disenfranchisement - World Wars (and present day): 1876-present day

The first half of the book was by far the most exciting sharing the history of the Indians and the Spanish and Mexican confrontations, the settling of this great state (my favorite part) and the many lives of the people who played a hand, the rich culture and history handed down from the first settler's - the Spanish and seeing how they impacted and helped develop who we call today, Texans, made me love this grand ole' state.

The second half of the book was the most sorrowful filled with the end of the Civil War, the extensive killing and movement of the Indians to the reservations, the slow progress of the reconstruction years followed by the many more years of utter hardship, up to the World Wars and "present day" (1953). This was the hardest part to read as it was notably the worst period of times for Texas...and unfortunately, the writing seemed a bit repetitive to the first half of the book in many parts, as the author was reviewing each set of people and circumstances (economy, agriculture, Indians, Mexicans, Religion, etc.) and how they were faring along the years.

Cons: My least favorite part with this book was that every once in awhile, even more when we came upon the Indian wars, the author would be very blunt with his statements. This usually appeared at a time you'd rather he just gave you a VERY brief idea such as the topics of cannibalism and some of the torturous instances with the Indians. It was thankfully not frequent and they were not "glorified" in any way...you cannot change history after all and there were times those things did happen. I was well pleased that Mr. Fehrenbach chose to write in a straightforward manner - not hiding any of the true facts, and not choosing sides, but describing how things really were. (Even if a few times those things were quite troublesome and horrifying).

There was a bit of evolution thrown in at the very beginning with how the Indians arrived that I did not care for but that's to be expected I suppose in a non-Christian author's writings. Also there were a few "light" curse words that I quickly skimmed over. :/ For a non-Christian book however it was mild from what it could have been!

Pros: If you want to know about Texas this book is for you! I don't think you'll find a better written book out there about this wonderful state's history. The author has the unique benefit of being *from* TX, and dedicated the book to his Texan great-grandfather, so he knows what he's talking about. Not only did he write about the facts but he gives a beautiful feel and flavor for the culture of the past and present of the state - It only made me love Texas (and my Texas friends) all the more! ...in spite of the high temperatures they have. ;)

This book isn't for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

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Reading Progress

02/03/2012 page 15
06/01/2012 page 205
26.0% "Finally got to the Alamo!"
06/19/2012 page 247
31.0% "Read past the Alamo now! Very interesting to learn all the fact of this period in history. Looking forward to reading about the Civil War next! :)"
07/12/2012 page 295
37.0% "Slowly but surely making progress! ;)"
07/24/2012 page 331
42.0% "Hurray! Made it to the Civil War and the halfway point!" 1 comment
08/15/2012 page 379
48.0% ""Whatever their motivation, and whatever their faults, no group of men ever more bravely sustained a forlorn cause [Civil War]. They gave it a certain haunted holiness few Texans ever completely forgot." (p.355)"
08/20/2012 page 401
51.0% "Hurray! I'm more than halfway through (the book is only 719 pages long in total...GoodReads counts the bibliography so it's longer here. Lol!)! Only 319 pages left! :D"
08/30/2012 page 465
59.0% 2 comments
09/02/2012 page 465
59.0% "That's 52 pages I've read since the last time I updated 2 days ago! :D Only 202 pages to go!"
09/08/2012 page 576
72.0% 4 comments
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Rachel "It is a valid question, whether the long frontier shaped Anglo-America, or whether attitudes, prejudices, and ethics brought from Europe shaped the American frontier...One band of European emigrants created Hispanic-American civilization. Very different men, facing reasonably similar conditions in many places, made the United States." (p. 85)

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