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New & Noteworthy Books and Reports: December 2023

The Library is continually adding new books to its collection. The December 2023 New & Noteworthy list compiles previous New & Noteworthy highlighted books by or about Texas Legislators, including: biographies, autobiographies, oral history interviews, and brief profiles.

Check out and delivery of New & Noteworthy titles is available to legislative staff in Capitol and District offices. To arrange check out and delivery of any of these items, you can submit an online request through the New & Noteworthy page on our website or contact the library at 512-463-1252.


1. Identified with Texas: The Lives of Governor Elisha Marshall Pease and Lucadia Niles Pease
By Elizabeth Whitlow
Presents a dual biography of former Texas Governor Elisha Marshall Pease and his wife Lucadia Niles Pease. Explores their professional and personal lives from 1812-1905, including Pease's years in Texas’ first three Legislative sessions, his two terms as Governor, life in Austin during the Civil War, and his gubernatorial appointment during Reconstruction. Highlights Lucadia's independent travels and marriage to Pease, noting she considered herself a "women's rights woman" and supported her daughter's desire to attend college.
University of North Texas Press, 2022, 432 pages
976.4 W613ID 2021



2. Women Across Time = Mujeres a Través del Tiempo: Sixteen Influential South Texas Women
By Susan L. Roberson, editor
Profiles the sixteen South Texas women represented in the public mural Mujeres a Través del Tiempo (Women Across Time) by Arnold Gonzáles Sr. housed on the campus of Texas A&M University–Kingsville. Examines the lives of ranchers, educators, politicians, artists, and others who served the community. Includes biographies of Former Representative Frances 'Sissy' Farenthold and Former Representative Irma Rangel.
Texas A&M University Press, 2022, 233 pages
976.4 R638W 2022



3. Growing Up in the Lone Star State: Notable Texans Remember Their Childhoods
By Gaylon Finklea Hecker and Marianne Odom
Presents 47 oral history interviews describing Texas in the early twentieth century: detailing how growing up in the Lone Star State benefited the interviewees. Recalls tales about the Great Depression, the two world wars, former slave colonies and sharecropper fields, the modern growth of major cities, the race to the moon, and a variety of other topics. Includes interviews with Representative Senfronia Thompson, former Representative Sarah Weddington, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ruth Simmons, Dan Rather, Lady Bird Johnson, and Richard Overton.
Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, 2021, 442 pages
976.4 H449G 2021



4. Reverberations of Racial Violence: Critical Reflections on the History of the Border
By Sonia Hernandez and John Moran Gonzalez, editors
Compiles a series of essays inspired by the 1919 Joint Committee to Investigate the Ranger Force, which addressed the violence committed against Mexican-Americans by Texas Rangers. Explores the historical context surrounding the Ranger investigation, the life of Brownsville Representative José Tomás Canales (whose activism led to the investigation), and how the history of violence against Texans of Mexican descent has been rediscovered by a new generation of historians, writers, and filmmakers.
University of Texas Press, 2021, 310 pages
363.209764 H557R 2021



5. George T. Ruby: Champion of Equal Rights in Reconstruction Texas
By Carl H. Moneyhon
Profiles George T. Ruby, one of the most widely known of the first generation of Black politicians in Texas. Chronicles Ruby's emergence as a political leader, Radical Republican and delegate to the Constitution Convention of 1868, and his election to the Texas State Senate in 1869. Details his legislative priorities in the Texas Senate and his efforts to ensure the protection of basic civil rights of African Americans.
Center for Texas Studies and TCU Press, 2020, 413 pages
976.4 M742G 2020



6. Releasing the Butterfly: A Love Affair in Four Acts
By Max Sherman
Describes the decades-long love story and marriage of former Texas Senator Max Sherman and his wife, Gene Alice. Explores how the couple learned to navigate their life together as equals while he served as a member of the Texas Senate, president of West Texas A&M University in Canyon, and Dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Provides stories of their shared adventures, Texas politics, and ultimately, how they faced Gene Alice's struggle with Alzheimer's disease.
Max Sherman, 2020, 270 pages
920 SH553R 2020



7. Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage: A Jurisprudence of Rights and Liberties
By John C. Domino
Examines Justice Bob Gammage's service on the Texas Supreme Court during a tumultuous period of judicial history (1991-1995), including the debate on judicial campaigns and contributions, changes in the partisan and ideological composition of Texas courts, and the birth of the judicial reform movement. Discusses Gammage's terms in the Texas Legislature from the 62nd through 64th Legislatures (1971-1976), particularly his role in the Constitutional Convention of 1974.
Lexington Books, 2020, 273 pages
347.764 D671T 2020



8. In This Land of Plenty: Mickey Leland and Africa in American Politics
By Benjamin Talton
Explores the life and career of Congressman and former Texas Representative George Thomas "Mickey" Leland. Notes the beginning of Leland's political career in the Texas Legislature and his advocacy for what he called the "People's Bills," before he went on to succeed Congresswoman Barbara Jordan in the U.S. House of Representatives. Focuses on Leland's leadership in bringing an African American perspective to U.S. politics, including his influence on developing foreign policy toward Africa, promoting humanitarianism, and eradicating world hunger.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019, 281 pages
328.73 T149L 2019



9. The Meanest Man in Congress: Jack Brooks and the Making of an American Century
By Timothy McNulty and Brendan McNulty
Profiles former Congressman and Texas Representative Jack Brooks, a Democrat who served in the 50th and 51st Texas legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives from 1953 through 1995. Describes his life, from his upbringing in Beaumont and enlistment in World War II to his political career under ten U.S. presidents. Highlights Brooks' influence as a member of the Texas congressional delegation, his leadership roles on congressional committees and subcommittees, his insistence on government oversight, and his successes in passing bipartisan legislation. Describes his candid manner and demanding methods which earned him the (mostly complimentary) reputation of being the "Meanest Man in Congress." Details his roles in advancing LBJ's Great Society, the impeachment of Nixon, and investigating the Iran-Contra Affair.
NewSouth Books, 2019, 576 pages
328.73092 M235M 2019



10. Women's Suffrage in Texas: Struggle, the Story: Successes, Notable Firsts: Senators, Women of the Texas Senate
By Texas Senate
Reflects on the legislative efforts, struggle for suffrage, and achievements of women in Texas in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment. Provides brief biographies of significant women in Texas, including former and current Texas Senators. Notes that since the first woman was elected to a statewide office a century ago, Texas women have served at every level of state and local government.
Texas Senate, 2019, 63 pages
L1803.8 W842 2019



11. The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch
By Bill Sarpalius
Presents the compelling life story of Lithuanian American Bill Sarpalius, former U.S. Congressman and Texas Senator, who overcame extreme adversity in his youth before embarking on a path of public service. Recounts how his experience at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch changed the trajectory of his life and ultimately led him into state, national, and international politics. Details his many political causes including the launch of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Addiction (in memory of his mother), and the fight for Lithuania's freedom from the Soviet Union, for which he was named a "Grand Duke."
Texas A&M University Press, 2018, 322 pages
328.73 S71G 2018



12. Minority Civil Rights and the Texas Legislature
By Secretary of Senate and Senate Engrossing & Enrolling
Surveys the history of racial intolerance toward minorities and the evolution of civil rights in Texas. Details how African American and Hispanic representation in the Texas Legislature has changed through the years. Profiles Texas lawmakers and leaders and their contributions to racial equality. Includes a selection of contemporary and historic photographs and artwork.
Senate Publications and Printing, 2018, 22 pages
L1803.8 M667 2018



13. Owning My S.H.I.T!: Suffering Hardship Internalizing Trauma
By Jolanda "Jo" Jones
Recounts the challenging experiences of Representative Jolanda "Jo" Jones and how she was able to overcome what she details as Suffering of Hardships while Internalizing Trauma (S.H.I.T!). Describes her journey to become a successful attorney, politician, author, and activist. Shares her transformation so that others may have a roadmap to identify, accept, and work through adversities to achieve positive change in their own lives.
Shekinah Publishing Services, 2018, 191 pages
328.764 J76OW 2018



14. Speaker Jim Wright: Power, Scandal, and the Birth of Modern Politics
By J. Brooks Flippen
Examines the life and political career of Jim Wright, beginning in the Texas House of Representatives and culminating as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Draws on personal papers and interviews with Wright and others. Suggests his political downfall was brought about by poor personal choices, a dictatorial leadership style, and the "devolution of political civility" that is even more prevalent today.
University of Texas Press, 2018, 400 pages
328.73 F648S 2018



15. The Dukes of Duval County: The Parr Family and Texas Politics
By Anthony Carrozza
Examines the Parr family dynasty that swayed local and state elections primarily in Duval County but also across South Texas for over half a century. Documents how the Parrs, including former Texas Senator Archie Parr, rose to prominence from wealthy land owners to county and state officials who influenced Texas politics, including the election of Lyndon B. Johnson to the U.S. Senate. Explores how the Parr family was able to use its power and influence to avoid jail terms and justice until its regime ended in the 1970s.
University of Oklahoma Press, 2017, 427 pages
976.4 C237D 2017



16. Tejano Tiger: José de los Santos Benavides and the Texas-Mexico Borderlands, 1823-1891
By Jerry Thompson
Presents an in-depth study of Representative Santos Benavides, considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of Laredo, Texas. Traces his military and political career with the Republic of Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and finally in the State of Texas, where he became the highest ranking Tejano in the Confederate army and later a member of the Texas Legislature. Describes his devotion to the Texas border (as the only Tejano in the Texas Legislature in 1879) and his tireless work to raise the economic and political status of the region. Concludes that with his unique status as a friend and confidant of two Mexican presidents, and his influence in the Texas Legislature, he was one of the single most influential individuals in the history of the border.
TCU Press, 2017, 412 pages
976.4 T374T 2017



17. Bill Ratliff: A Profile of Courage and Leadership in American Politics
By Robert Edward Sterken Jr.
Highlights the factors that led former Senator and Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff to be known for his integrity and the philosophy that "nothing is politically right that is morally wrong." Considers his work on education, tort reform, and redistricting to show why he was called Obi-Wan Kenobi by his peers and named recipient of the 2005 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Lexington Books, 2016, 218 pages
328.73092 ST45B 2016



18. Homer Thornberry: Congressman, Judge, and Advocate for Equal Rights
By Homer Ross Tomlin
Examines the life of Homer Thornberry, who began his long career in public service with a stint in the Texas Legislature while still in law school. Documents his life in Congress and on the federal bench, and his strong stands for racial justice.
TCU Press, 2016, 222 pages
347.73 T596H 2016



19. Mexican American Baseball in South Texas
By Richard A. Santillan, et al.
Highlights the contributions of baseball teams and players from Edinburg, McAllen, Mission, Pharr, Donna, Alamo, San Juan, Brownsville, Harlingen, and other surrounding communities, from the late 19th century through the 1950s. Discusses the role of baseball in bridging the cultural divide in the Rio Grande Valley. Includes the story of former Representative Joe J. Bernal and his father.
Arcadia Publishing, 2016, 127 pages
796.35709764 SM 2016



20. Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: Black Leadership in Texas, 1868-1898
By Merline Pitre
Provides an in-depth examination of Black legislators in Texas after the Civil War from 1868-1900. Examines what led to the emergence of these Black lawmakers, their influence on constituents and their white colleagues, their actions in constitutional conventions and role in party conventions, and the forces that led to the demise of their political careers. Highlights Texas Senators Matthew Gaines and George T. Ruby, Texas Representatives Richard Allen and Robert Lloyd Smith, and Republican party leader Norris Wright Cuney.
Texas A&M University Press, 2016, 296 pages
976.4 P931T 2016



21. Texas Women: Their Histories, Their Lives
By Elizabeth Hayes Turner, Stephanie Cole, and Rebecca Sharpless, editors
Compiles a collection of biographies and essays of Texas women showing the racial, class, and religious diversity of the Lone Star State, from the Spanish colonial era to the twenty-first century. Explores the lives of Native American, European, African American, and Hispanic women and their impact on Texas. Focuses on a range of topics, including the influence of Spanish law, slavery, higher education, equal rights, civil rights, politics, business, ranching, and the arts. Provides essays on Oveta Culp Hobby and former U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan.
The University of Georgia Press, 2015, 526 pages
305.409764 T852T 2015



22. Fighting Stock
By Richard B. McCaslin
Profiles the life and times of John S. "Rip" Ford in this new examination of his contributions to Texas history. Chronicles, not only his well-known tenure as a Texas Ranger and soldier, but as a leader of the Texas military forces allied with the Confederacy, as a physician, lawyer, newspaper editor, mayor, and state legislator.
TCU Press, 2011, 391 pages
328.764 F753M 2011



23. The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics
By Patrick Cox
Documents the development of the office of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representative into one of power and prestige. Uses material from interviews with twelve former Speakers. Traces the office of the Speaker from 1846 through 2009.
University of Texas Press, 2010, 254 pages
328.764 C839H 2010



24. José Antonio Navarro
By David R. McDonald
Presents the biography of Senator José Antonio Navarro who was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, a participant at the 1836 Consultation, the 1845 drafting of the state constitution after annexation, and a state senator. Points out that the 1846 Texas Legislature named the newly established Navarro County in his honor.
Texas State Historical Association, 2010, 340 pages
976.4 N228M 2010



25. Latina Legislator: Leticia Van de Putte and the Road to Leadership
By Sharon A. Navarro
Profiles the political career of Senator Leticia Van de Putte. Provides historical background and analyzes her legislative effectiveness.
Texas A&M University Press, 2008, 178 pages
328.764 V26N 2008



26. Rough Road to Justice: The Journey of Women Lawyers in Texas
By Betty Trapp Chapman
Examines how the legal profession has been the hardest of all professions for women to break into, due to sexual discrimination that was historically rooted in the legal system. Describes the challenges and limitations women endured in 1902, the year the first woman was allowed to practice law in Texas. Highlights the courage all of these women exhibited facing men who were unwelcoming even into the 21st century. Profiles a number of pioneering women who were also among the first women to be elected into the Texas Legislature, among them Barbara Jordan, Irma Rangel, Sissy Farenthold, and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Points out that despite the obstacles, women lawyers today comprise more than 31 percent of the State Bar of Texas and 48 percent of law students in the state.
State Bar of Texas, 2008, 267 pages
340.092 C366R 2008



27. Refined By Fire: A Family's Triumph of Love and Faith: A Soldier's Story of 9-11
By Brian Birdwell and Mel Birdwell
Alternates accounts between husband and wife to describe September 11, 2001, Senator Brian Birdwell’s injuries, his long recovery, and the effects on the family. Details their experiences during the long ordeal and their strengthened Christian faith.
Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, 231 pages
328.764 B532B 2004



28. Capitol Women: Texas Female Legislators, 1923-1999
By Nancy Baker Jones and Ruthe Winegarten
Examines the Texas Legislature through the experiences and history of the women who have served or are currently serving as legislators from January 1923 to January 1999. Includes 4 essays for cultural context and profiles on all 86 women who have served in that window of time through 58 chronologically arranged biographies, and 28 “snapshots."
University of Texas Press, 2000, 328 pages
328.764 J722C



29. Governors Who Have Been, and Other Public Men of Texas
By Norman G. Kittrell, Sr.
Provides a record of incidents and events relating to the lives of several remarkable Texans including governors, state legislators and other public figures drawn from the memories of Norman G. Kittrell, Sr., a former state legislator from Houston. Provides a look into the Texas political and judicial arenas during 1846-1921.
Dealy-Adey-Elgin Company, 1921, 301 pages
923 K658G 1921