The best books about Texas

64 authors have picked their favorite books about Texas and why they recommend each book.

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Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast

By Andrew W. Hall, Julie Young,

Book cover of Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast

One of the most interesting stories involving Texas during the Civil War is the blockade runners that operated out of Galveston and other Texas ports. As other Confederate ports were captured by the Union, Texas gradually emerged as the last important route for Southern goods to be exported and weapons and other war materials to be imported. Andy Hall is the acknowledged expert on this subject and this book is essential for anyone wanting to explore this interesting and important subject. One of the best features of this book is that it includes many photographs, maps, and illustrations that are not available anywhere else.

Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast

By Andrew W. Hall, Julie Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the last months of the American Civil War, the upper Texas coast became a hive of blockade running. Though Texas was often considered an isolated backwater in the conflict, the Union's pervasive and systematic seizure of Southern ports left Galveston as one of the only strongholds of foreign imports in the anemic supply chain to embattled Confederate forces. Long, fast steamships ran in and out of the city's port almost every week, bound to and from Cuba. Join author Andrew W. Hall as he explores the story of Texas's Civil War blockade runners--a story of daring, of desperation and,…


Who am I?

Ed Cotham, is the prize-winning author of numerous books and articles on Texas Civil War history. A frequent lecturer, with appearances on television and radio, Ed has probably given more tours of Texas Civil War battlefields than anyone. Ed has written the texts for many historic markers and has served as project historian for several important shipwrecks in Texas waters.


I wrote...

Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

By Ed Cotham,

Book cover of Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

What is my book about?

The Civil War history of Galveston is one of the last untold stories from America's bloodiest war, despite the fact that Galveston was a focal point of hostilities throughout the conflict. As other Southern ports fell to the Union, Galveston emerged as one of the Confederacy's only lifelines to the outside world. When the war ended in 1865, Galveston was the only major port still in Confederate hands.

In this beautifully written narrative history, Ed Cotham draws upon years of archival and on-site research, as well as rare historical photographs, drawings, and maps, to chronicle the Civil War years in Galveston. His story encompasses all the military engagements that took place in the city and on Galveston Bay, including the dramatic Battle of Galveston, in which Confederate forces retook the city on New Year's Day, 1863.

Lone Star Blue and Gray

By Ralph Wooster,

Book cover of Lone Star Blue and Gray: Essays on Texas and the Civil War

This book includes 16 important essays by prominent Texas historians exploring a wide variety of themes relating to Texas and the war. The editors provide a useful introduction to the subject and the essays themselves are among the best things ever written on the chosen subjects. Alwyn Barr’s article on “Texas Coastal Defense,” for example, is a short but complete description of the ways that Texas Confederates chose to creatively and successfully defend their large coast. If you are interested in Texas history, this book is essential reading. I find myself returning to its pages again and again.

Lone Star Blue and Gray

By Ralph Wooster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lone Star Blue and Gray as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bitter disputes over secession to the ways in which the conflict would be remembered, Texas and Texans were caught up in the momentous struggles of the American Civil War. Tens of thousands of Texans joined military units, and scarcely a household in the state was unaffected as mothers and wives assumed new roles in managing farms and plantations. Still others grappled with the massive social, political, and economic changes wrought by the bloodiest conflict in American history.

The sixteen essays from some of the leading historians in the field (eleven of them new) in the second edition of…


Who am I?

Ed Cotham, is the prize-winning author of numerous books and articles on Texas Civil War history. A frequent lecturer, with appearances on television and radio, Ed has probably given more tours of Texas Civil War battlefields than anyone. Ed has written the texts for many historic markers and has served as project historian for several important shipwrecks in Texas waters.


I wrote...

Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

By Ed Cotham,

Book cover of Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

What is my book about?

The Civil War history of Galveston is one of the last untold stories from America's bloodiest war, despite the fact that Galveston was a focal point of hostilities throughout the conflict. As other Southern ports fell to the Union, Galveston emerged as one of the Confederacy's only lifelines to the outside world. When the war ended in 1865, Galveston was the only major port still in Confederate hands.

In this beautifully written narrative history, Ed Cotham draws upon years of archival and on-site research, as well as rare historical photographs, drawings, and maps, to chronicle the Civil War years in Galveston. His story encompasses all the military engagements that took place in the city and on Galveston Bay, including the dramatic Battle of Galveston, in which Confederate forces retook the city on New Year's Day, 1863.

The Fate of Texas

By Charles D. Grear,

Book cover of The Fate of Texas: The Civil War and the Lone Star State

This book includes 11 essays by an all-star cast of historians. It goes well beyond the military events of the war and covers the impact of the war on various groups of people. The essays discuss previously unexplored topics ranging from the wartime experiences of Texas women to the impact of the war on German immigrants. It also includes essays discussing the post-war impact of the conflict. Of particular interest is Carl H. Moneyhon’s essay on the reaction of Texans to Confederate defeat. This is not only an important book, but will also be interesting even to casual history lovers.

The Fate of Texas

By Charles D. Grear,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fate of Texas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What was Texas' role in the Civil War? In its examination of a state too often neglected by Civil War historians, The Fate of Texas presents Texas as a decidedly Southern, yet in many ways unusual, state seriously committed to and deeply affected by the Confederate war effort in a multitude of ways. When the state joined the Confederacy and fought in the war, its fate was uncertain. The war touched every portion of the population and all aspects of life in Texas. Never before has a group of historians examined the impact of the war on so many facets…


Who am I?

Ed Cotham, is the prize-winning author of numerous books and articles on Texas Civil War history. A frequent lecturer, with appearances on television and radio, Ed has probably given more tours of Texas Civil War battlefields than anyone. Ed has written the texts for many historic markers and has served as project historian for several important shipwrecks in Texas waters.


I wrote...

Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

By Ed Cotham,

Book cover of Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

What is my book about?

The Civil War history of Galveston is one of the last untold stories from America's bloodiest war, despite the fact that Galveston was a focal point of hostilities throughout the conflict. As other Southern ports fell to the Union, Galveston emerged as one of the Confederacy's only lifelines to the outside world. When the war ended in 1865, Galveston was the only major port still in Confederate hands.

In this beautifully written narrative history, Ed Cotham draws upon years of archival and on-site research, as well as rare historical photographs, drawings, and maps, to chronicle the Civil War years in Galveston. His story encompasses all the military engagements that took place in the city and on Galveston Bay, including the dramatic Battle of Galveston, in which Confederate forces retook the city on New Year's Day, 1863.

Isaac's Storm

By Erik Larson,

Book cover of Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

Isaac’s Storm brings the hurricane which hit Galveston, Texas, in September brilliantly to life, revolving around the central figure of the city’s official weatherman, Isaac Cline. 

I’ve read the book half a dozen times—it reads like a novel, its descriptions are vivid, horrific, haunting. The tension rises like the waters—it’s as close to being at the eye of a hurricane without… well you get the picture. Gripping from the first page to the last.

Isaac's Storm

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Isaac's Storm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of The Devil in the White City, here is the true story of the deadliest hurricane in history.

National Bestseller

September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over six thousand people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history--and Isaac Cline…


Who am I?

Narrative history isn’t about dates, kings, and queens. It’s about deeds, actions, experiences, decisions of people great and small. It’s about putting the reader in the middle of a drama and watching events unfold around them as if they were there so they can understand, observe, and perhaps ask: what would I have done? The best history writing shouldn’t just inform, but inspire you, make you feel: laugh, cry, feel angry, flinch at horrific sights, cheer the heroes, boo the villains, because history is made by ordinary people, good and bad, who possess many similar traits to the reader.


I wrote...

Hitler's Final Fortress: Breslau 1945

By Richard Hargreaves,

Book cover of Hitler's Final Fortress: Breslau 1945

What is my book about?

Hitler’s Final Fortress is the story of the battle of Breslau—today Wrocław in Poland—at the end of World War 2, a siege that lasted as long as Stalingrad but is little known in the West. It is told through the eyes of the city’s residents, the scratch German units who sought to defend it, the Nazi leaders who reduced it to rubble, the Red Army troops who sought to capture it. By the time Breslau surrendered on May 6, 1945—four days after Berlin had fallen—the city was a wasteland and 25,000 soldiers and civilians had died.

Hitler's Final Fortress is the first full-length account of the siege in English, based on official documents, newspapers, letters, diaries, and personal testimonies.

The Path to Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Book cover of The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I

Great biographers never ignore the warts, and Lyndon Johnson—the subject of Robert Caro’s masterful quartet of biographies—had plenty of them. For starters, LBJ mishandled the war in Vietnam, for which history will never forgive him. But Johnson was also a stunning contradiction—a rural Texas conservative who did more for urban society than anyone in modern history—and an absolute force of nature. I served as a White House Fellow under him in 1966-67. Close to Johnson, you could sense his nobility.

The Path to Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Path to Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The greatest biography of our era ... Essential reading for those who want to comprehend power and politics' The Times

Robert A. Caro's legendary, multi-award-winning biography of US President Lyndon Johnson is a uniquely riveting and revelatory account of power, political genius and the shaping of twentieth-century America.

This first instalment tells of the rise to national power of a desperately poor young man from the Texas Hill Country, revealing in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy and ambition that set LBJ apart. It charts his boyhood through the years of the Depression to his debut…


Who am I?

I’m a man who has led two lives. The first was as a junk dealer’s son from Buffalo, New York, who worked his tail off in school, won a full scholarship to Columbia University in 1958, and began dreaming of entering politics and someday becoming governor of New York State. The second life arrived suddenly during the third semester of my junior year when blindness seemed to rob me of my dreams. It didn’t, and along with dear friends and a loving family, these biographies have played a central role in keeping my dreams alive.


I wrote...

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man's Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life

By Sanford D. Greenberg,

Book cover of Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man's Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life

What is my book about?

It’s a memoir built around a tragic event—the day in February 1961 when a Detroit surgeon blinded me ironically to save my eyes—but it is far from a tragic tale. My future wife, Sue, my college roommate Art Garfunkel, and others got me back on my feet and helped me find my way from there. Today, I consider myself, as did Lou Gehrig in his distress, “the luckiest man in the world.” That’s the story I tell, in part to understand my own life and in part to encourage others. It's also available in a Young Adult edition.

Friday Night Lights

By H.G. Bissinger,

Book cover of Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

A superb and gripping account of the hold that American Football has over a small town in the USA. In telling the story of a season, Bissinger captures the glory, tragedy, and futility of sport, and its connection to racial politics, ambition, local rivalries, and a passionate fan base. Led to a brilliant TV series. Elegiac and path-breaking.

Friday Night Lights

By H.G. Bissinger,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Friday Night Lights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 25th anniversary edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller and Sports Illustrated 's best football book of all time, with a new afterword by the authorReturn once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa,the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn't known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the…


Who am I?

I am a historian and journalist. I lived in Italy for over twenty years, immersing myself in the culture of that country—in every form. I decided to write Calcio after becoming aware of the centrality of football to Italian culture and politics, and around the time of the rise of a football entrepreneur to political power—Silvio Berlusconi. The book took me three years, led me to visit numerous cities, stadiums, and regions, and interview dozens of journalists, experts, and players. It was a love letter and a warning—dedicated to ‘my father who loves football, and my son, who hates it.'


I wrote...

Calcio: A History of Italian Football

By John Foot,

Book cover of Calcio: A History of Italian Football

What is my book about?

A history of Italian football which ranges across the beauty and the ugliness of the game, and its importance for culture, politics, and history in that country. Italy cannot be understood without understanding its football. This book tells the story of triumph and tragedy, of four world cups, of geniuses and villains, of scandals and violence, of rivalries and moments of beauty and grace, and crazy fans and out-of-control ultrà. At the heart of the book are the connections between politics, money, and Italian football—from fascism to FIAT to Silvio Berlusconi and beyond. Monumental and fascinating, this book has been called ‘the bible of Italian football’.

A Journey Through Texas

By Frederick Law Olmsted,

Book cover of A Journey Through Texas: Or a Saddle-Trip on the Southwestern Frontier

The great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was a journalist before he found his true calling - he designed New York’s Central Park, Roland Park in Baltimore, and many other green spaces across the U.S. Olmsted toured East Texas in the early 1850s as a correspondent for the New York Daily Times. An ardent abolitionist, he reported on the cruelty of slavery, which he found permeated the society. The white slaveholders lived in almost constant dread of their insurrection and escape, which were constant. Occasionally, the slaves themselves had dogs who would engage the hounds used by slave owners and overseers to track and capture the runaways. Olmsted used the nom de plume Yoeman and he compiled his reports and journals into a trilogy that looks at the institution of slavery in its last decade.  His companion for much of his journey was a bull terrier named Judy, a…

A Journey Through Texas

By Frederick Law Olmsted,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Journey Through Texas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before he became America's foremost landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) was by turns a surveyor, merchant seaman, farmer, magazine publisher, and traveling newspaper correspondent. In 1856-57 he took a saddle trip through Texas to see the country and report on its lands and peoples. His description of the Lone Star State on the eve of the Civil War remains one of the best accounts of the American West ever published. Unvarnished by sentiment or myth making, based on firsthand observations, and backed with statistical research, Olmsted's narrative captures the manners, foods, entertainments, and conversations of the Texans, as well…


Who am I?

Mark Derr is an independent scholar and author of three books on dogs, a biography of Davy Crockett, and a social and environmental history of Florida, as well as a co-author with photographer Cameron Davidson of Over Florida. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American, Audubon, Smithsonian, Natural History, The New York Times, and other publications. His poems have appeared in Kansas Quarterly, Partisan Review, and other journals. He has had a lifelong relationship with dogs.  Having known and mourned a number of outstanding dogs, he has told friends, "They are always with me in my thoughts, and I miss them very much." He and his wife currently share their domicile with a Jack Russell Terrier and a Miami Beach street cat.


I wrote...

Dog's Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship

By Mark Derr,

Book cover of Dog's Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship

What is my book about?

A comprehensive, humane, and bemused tour of the dog-human relationship, Dog's Best Friend combines anecdote, research, and reportage to illuminate our complex rapport with our cherished canine companions. Tracking our national obsession with an animal that now outnumbers children in American households, Mark Derr chronicles the evolution of "the culture of the dog" from the prehistoric domestication of tamed wolves to the modern horrors of overbreeding and inbreeding.

The First Days

By Rhiannon Frater,

Book cover of The First Days: As the World Dies

This book captures the horror of a sudden onset of the end of days. Zombies are suddenly real and rising all over as two badass female characters unite to survive. As a writer of zombie fiction, I am very choosey, often I find myself Monday morning quarterbacking the choices characters make when I read or watch them, this one impressed me.

The First Days

By Rhiannon Frater,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The First Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies trilogy is an internet sensation. The first two books, The First Days and Fighting to Survive, have won the Dead Letter Award for Best Novel from Mail Order Zombie. The First Days was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner. AmericanHorrorBlog calls Rhiannon Frater "a writer to watch."

The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.

Thrown together…


Who am I?

What would I do if I was the last person on Earth? I have wondered this since I was a child after watching apocalyptic movies; Damnation Alley, Night of the Comet, and of course the Romero Living Dead movies. Would I be able to make it? Could I not only survive but contend with whatever menaces there were to face be they aliens, monsters, the living dead, or the actual living. My imagination would run loose, putting myself in the shoes of the characters to see how I’d fare, what would I do differently. These little escapes grew and matured into my own stories.


I wrote...

Life Among The Dead

By Daniel Cotton,

Book cover of Life Among The Dead

What is my book about?

There are over a million people in the city of Waterloo. Today, most of them have died, and now they're hungry. Corporal Dan Williamson is caught in the middle of the outbreak, desperately trying to reach his wife who is somewhere amid the urban decay. There are other souls out there, other tales of survival among the horror. Dan will soon learn that the living may prove to be an even bigger threat than the dead in this zombie epic.

Hood's Texas Brigade

By Susannah J. Ural,

Book cover of Hood's Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy's Most Celebrated Unit

Ural tackles a unit history, but this time a brigade and one of the most famous ones: Hood’s Texans. She showcases not just why and how they became renowned for their fighting effectiveness, but how these men—white southerners—were unapologetic in their support of slavery and the Confederacy. It is “new military history” at its best—combining astute military analysis with social and cultural understandings of the people and the times in which they lived.

Hood's Texas Brigade

By Susannah J. Ural,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hood's Texas Brigade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most effective units to fight on either side of the Civil War, the Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia served under Robert E. Lee from the Seven Days Battles in 1862 to the surrender at Appomattox in 1865. In Hood's Texas Brigade, Susannah J. Ural presents a nontraditional unit history that traces the experiences of these soldiers and their families to gauge the war's effect on them and to understand their role in the white South's struggle for independence.

According to Ural, several factors contributed to the Texas Brigade's extraordinary success: the unit's strong self-identity…


Who am I?

I have been reading, researching, writing, and teaching Civil War military history for nearly thirty years. I first became interested in soldiers and their experiences as a teen, and went on to earn a PhD in American History at the University of Georgia. I’ve always been fascinated by the anti-hero, and the ways in which everyday people coped (or failed to cope) with this violent conflict. I am currently writing a book about regiments accused of cowardice and how those searing allegations cast a shadow over their military record. From 2010-2015, I served as editor of the scholarly journal Civil War History, and I was recently elected President of the Society for Civil War Historians (2022-2024).


I wrote...

A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War

By Lesley J. Gordon,

Book cover of A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War

What is my book about?

A Broken Regiment recounts the tragic history of one of the Civil War's most ill-fated Union military units. Organized in the late summer of 1862, the 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was unprepared for battle a month later, when it entered the fight at Antietam. The results were catastrophic: nearly a quarter of the men were killed or wounded, and Connecticut's 16th panicked and fled the field. In the years that followed, the regiment participated in minor skirmishes before surrendering en masse in North Carolina in 1864. 

The struggles of the 16th led survivors to reflect on the true nature of their military experience during and after the war, and questions of cowardice and courage, patriotism and purpose, were often foremost in their thoughts.

Book cover of Texas Women on the Cattle Trails

Cattle drives although a relatively brief episode in history largely contribute to tales of the cowboy that helped writers and Hollywood to later make him an American icon. Texas Women on the Cattle Trails provides a history of sixteen of the women who contributed to and participated in cattle drives originating from Texas. This edited collection offers individual stories of these women and based on their own accounts which give us an inside glimpse into how this era shaped their lives. Meet real cattlewomen who built ranching empires, who showed courage and spunk, and enjoyed a closeness with nature while viewing buffalo and gazing at the stars along their journeys.

Texas Women on the Cattle Trails

By Sara R. Massey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Texas Women on the Cattle Trails as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Texas Women on the Cattle Trails tells the stories of sixteen women who drove cattle up the trail from Texas during the last half of the nineteenth century. Some were young; some were old (over thirty). Some took to the trails by choice; others, out of necessity. Some went along to look at the stars; others, to work the cattle. Some made money and built ranching empires, but others went broke and lived hard, even desperate lives. The courage of Margaret Borland and the spunk of Willie Matthews, the pure delight of Cornelia Adair viewing the buffalo, and the joy…


Who am I?

I grew up around ranch and rodeo life, having always been fascinated by it, attended several rodeos each year. Watching Jonnie Jonckowski ride bulls and Martha Josey break records wining barrel races—they were an inspiration. When an opportunity arose for me to build a career around researching and writing about cowgirls, rodeo, and cattlewomen, it was a dream come true.  Hope you enjoy the books about them that I’ve recommended.


I wrote...

Oklahoma Rodeo Women

By Tracey Hanshew,

Book cover of Oklahoma Rodeo Women

What is my book about?

Oklahoma’s central location and ranching tradition gave it a unique connection to the rodeo industry as it grew from a local pastime to an internationally popular sport. From the very beginning, Oklahoma cowgirls played a significant role in developing the institution and the businesses that grew up in its shadow.

Lucille Mulhall’s pioneering roping carved out a place for women in the actual competition, while Mildred Chrisman’s promotional efforts kept rodeo chutes open during the Great Depression. Modern ranchers like Terry Stuart produced the Quarter Horses sought by professional rodeo athletes around the world. From Guymon to Pawhuska and from stock contractors to rodeo clowns, Oklahoma Rodeo Women follows the trail these women blazed across this rough-and-tumble sport.

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