Eavesdropping on Texas History
Mary L. Scheer
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Most writers and readers of history have at one time or another wished that they could have been at some particular defining event in history. Whether it was a moment of a great decision, a major turning point that changed everything, or simply an intriguing occurrence, many scholars and others have on occasion wished that they “could have been there.” Texas history provides infinite Lone Star episodes to consider, rooted in the widespread assumption that Texas is a colorful, unique, and exceptional place with larger-than-life heroes and narratives. Mary L. Scheer has assembled fifteen contributors to explore special moments in Texas history. The contributors assembled for this anthology represent many of the “all stars” among Texas historians: two State Historians of Texas, two past presidents of TSHA, four current or past presidents of ETHA, two past presidents of WTHA, nine fellows of historical associations, two Fulbright Scholars, and seven award-winning authors. Each is an expert in his or her field and provided in some fashion an answer to the question: At what moment in Texas history would you have liked to have been a “fly on the wall” and why? The choice of an event and the answers were both personal and individual, ranging from familiar topics to less well-known subjects. One wanted to be at the Alamo. Another chose to explore when Sam Houston refused to take a loyalty oath to the Confederacy. One chapter follows the first twenty-four hours of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidency after Kennedy’s assassination. Others write about the Dust Bowl coming to Texas, or when Texas Southern University was created. Their respective essays are not written as isolated occurrences or “moments,” but as causal developments presented within the larger social and political context of the period.