Alumni Authors: From James Madison to the Blues


Letters to Alice: Birth of the Kleberg-King Ranch Dynasty

by Jane Clements Monday, BS ’63, Distinguished Alumna,
and Frances Brannen Vick, BA ’58, Life Members

If there is a more enthralling way to learn Texas history than through the juicy love letters of two star-crossed lovers, we’re not aware of it. Cattle baron and attorney Robert Justus Kleberg wrote dozens of romantic missives to his future wife, Alice King, “the Princess of the Wild Horse Desert.” Authors Monday and Vick not only decipher some seriously tricky handwriting, but also richly contextualize the letters with insider information.




James Madison and the Making of America

by Kevin R. C. Gutzman, BA ’85, MPAff ’90, JD ’90

At worst, political biographies portray their subjects as idealized, larger-than-life figures. At best, they bring to life real people, each with their own set of very human strengths and challenges. Gutzman looks past James Madison’s iconic status as the father of the Constitution, revealing that Madison had serious doubts about the document that remains our country’s supreme law. The founding father’s greatest legacy, Gutzman argues, is his forward thinking on the separation of church and state.




Where Southern Cross the Dog

by Allen Whitley, BS ’83, MS ’91, PhD ’97, Life Member

A murder mystery, a Nazi spy, a Civil Rights saga, and the plaintive sounds of Mississippi blues: Whitley’s novel has a little of everything. When the wrong man is thrown in jail, the search for justice is left to two youngsters. While the book promises to be a page-turner, it may be equally worthwhile for the blues CD tucked in the back—many of its 1940s-era tunes have never before been heard by modern audiences.





Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State’s Military History

by Alexander Mendoza, BS ’93, Life Member, and Charles David Grear

Everyone knows to remember the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. But what about remembering African-American soldiers or Apaches? Mendoza and Grear have collected a wide range of essays on Texas wars, and all of them shine a light on non-canonical perspectives—from the role of women to the challenges faced by Tejano soldiers.





River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado

by Margie Crisp, BFA ’91

The Colorado River flows for 860 miles through Texas, covering terrain that varies from dusty deserts to coastal prairies. Writer and artist Crisp takes readers on a journey across every one of those miles, describing her travels by the river and the colorful characters she encounters along the way. Illustrations of flora and fauna are paired with informal journal entries on the ecology of each destination, from Lady Bird Lake to Matagorda Bay.



James D. Bulloch: Secret Agent and Mastermind of the Confederate Navy

by Walter E. Wilson, BA ’70, Life Member, and Gary L. McKay

Secret agent James Dunwoody Bulloch is said to have been the Confederacy’s most dangerous man in Europe. During the Civil War, the South ran a secret shipbuilding program overseas, v       vnd with Bulloch at the helm, they acquired 49 warships and masterminded the destruction of 130 Union ships. As a retired Naval captain and former senior U.S. intelligence officer in Europe, author Wilson knows what he’s writing about—and he does it well.




Luke Elliott: A Young Texas Pioneer

by John W. Hamlett, BFA ’57

Luke Elliott tells the Civil War-era story of two childhood best friends, Luke and Joshua, who rustle up all sorts of trouble on their Texas ranch: wrangling rattlesnakes, fleeing from hornets, and, in later years, arguing over girls. The fact that Luke is white and Joshua is black doesn’t get in the way until war arrives to disrupt their placid boyhoods. Can their friendship survive?


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