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Greene has a wide-ranging curiosity about the “facts” of Texas history: what lies behind them, what quirks of human nature they reveal, how the people who lived them might have experienced them, roads not taken, and why things have come to be as they are. His historical writing has helped make Texas’ past accessible and even interesting to the public for over forty years.
Spotlighting individuals, places, and events that make for distinctiveness, Sketches from the Five States of Texas features oddities and little-known facts that present a kind of “history-within-history.” Several sketches look at inventions or innovations, such as plows and Other pieces focus on historic moments: the first long distance telephone service; the last messenger from the Alamo. Transportation is a theme that runs through this book: trains, planes (including a box-kite contraption), early automobiles and roads, and steamboats, ice boats, and war boats. Place names get attention, too: peculiar names, unexpected sources, and long-lost places. Naturally, the wars of Texas are also covered: the Revolution, the Indian wars, the Civil War, and the Texas Navies.
The pieces in this collection originated, for the most part, in Greene’s popular Dallas Morning News columns; several sketches and all the regional introductions are completely new. Aficionados of Texas history will already know some of what they read here, but they will not know all of it. Greene’s nuggets of history will inform and entertain a wide reading public. They represent A. C. Greene at his best and most engaging—and the states of Texas at their best, too.