God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State

Image of God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State
Release Date: 
April 17, 2018
Reviewed by: 

Here’s a big book about a big subject by a big name writer.

God Save Texas is also a buddy book and a road book in which Lawrence Wright takes readers across the Lone Star State, sometimes with his closest friend, Stephen Harrigan, and sometimes on his own.

There have been many other books, both fiction and nonfiction, about Texas, including Giant and Lonesome Dove, both of which were made into movies.

God Save Texas is the most recent and up-to-date book about Texas and Texans, whom Wright explains are “supposed to be big people.”

The newness makes the book unique. So, too, does Wright’s distinctive voice, which sounds relaxed and intimate, and without any noticeable Texas swagger, but with a sense of genuine pride.

Whether one reads this book in one long sitting or in a long, drawn-out series of encounters that could take weeks, the author himself is there every step on the journey.

And that’s a good thing.

Some of the destinations on the journey are predictable, familiar and obligatory. Indeed, one can’t write about Texas without writing about the Alamo, the Dallas Cowboys, former Governor Ann Richards and Austin, where Wright lives and that’s unlike any other part of the Lone Star State.

Indeed, Austin is itself a kind of lone star.

The author pays homage to it as a “city of dogs and bars and food trucks with many quirky passions.” In a chapter titled The City of the Violet Crown, Wright points out that after Las Vegas, Austin is the most popular destination in the county.

God Save Texas is a book that one can read in the comfort of one’s own home and that one can also take on the long road that stretches from Houston, near Louisiana, to Austin and Odessa and then via I-20 to El Paso 822 miles away on the border with New Mexico.

Wright doesn’t tell travelers where to stay for a night or two, or even a week. Nor does he suggest what restaurants they ought to patronize. But he provides something more valuable.

He delivers what he promises to deliver in the subtitle: the “soul” of Texas.

God Save Texas is jam-packed with stories and stories within stories, some of them about Texas history and Texas legend and some of them about Wright himself who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower, a series now on Hulu and a playwright and a screenwriter, too.

If you know and admire his work for the big screen and the little screen, you’re in for pleasant surprises. Moreover, whether you love Texas or hate Texas, you will likely find God Save Texas a very funny and a very informative book about a place unlike any other on the face of the earth.

“God save Texas/He’s the only one who can!” Wright and the Texas-born blues singer, Marcia Ball, exclaim in a song at the front of the book.

Read Wright’s gripping narrative and you’ll understand what they mean.