God Save Texas: A Journey Into The Soul Of The Lone Star State, by Lawrence Wright
The central premise of this book is deeply flawed and emblematic of the larger worldview flaws of the author and others of his ilk, The author presumes that he is able to, as a well-regarded writer and progressive, diagnose the state of the soul of Texas and to encourage it to a better way that reflects his own thinking. On the one hand, the author celebrates certain Texans (the late Governor Richards) as well as the leftist attitude of, for example, the city of Austin, and demonstrates that while he had been tempted to leave Texas for good for the greener pastures of California, New York, or Texas, that he decided to be a progressive in Texas and fight for his state, and try to figure out why it was that Texas has remained conservative in the face of so much pressure to turn it into a bastion of corrupt leftist behavior and practice. On the one hand, the author knows the way that California and Austin serve as foils for rightist populist views that the author abhors and condemns and holds in contempt, but despite this he cannot help but to be such a foil because he is unable to recognize his own role in the false dilemma of contemporary politics that he simultaneously condemns and exhibits in this disappointing book.
This book is about 350 pages or so and it is divided into fourteen chapters. The author discusses the charms of his native state (1) and then moves on to a discussion of oil wells (2), which again leads him to wax not-so-eloquent on various political and historical matters. There is a discussion of Houston and its supposed problems (3), as well as what the author likes about its willingness to accept refugees. The author engages in libsplaining to try to “explain” culture from his point of view (4), before looking at Texas a cradle of presidents (5). The author divides Texas into FM Texas (leftist Texas) and AM Texas (conservative Texas) (6) before discussing Dallas (7). After this the author spends a lot of time talking about the process of lawmaking in Texas (8), the author’s praise of and lament of the passing of progressive Austin (9), and more focus on lawmaking (10), where the author finds that the only good Republican is a Rino. After that the author explores the borderlands and the troubled relationship between the United States and Mexico (11) before going to the “lonesome” areas of Western Texas (12). The book then ends with short chapters discussing a far out and quirky area of Texas before also looking at the location of his own grave (14), at which point the book ends with some acknowledgements.
Among the more serious flaws of the author is a lack of insight and self-knowledge that would have made this book a lot easier to take. Again, the author presumes himself to be sufficiently insightful to understand the state of the soul of his state. Unfortunately, he is mistaken in this. When the author comments, for example, upon the lamentable political partisanship of this era, he does not recognize the blame of the left in this, only the right. When he comments on the influence of wealthy political contributors to the decline of politics, he only looks at those on the right, not George Soros, for example (whose name is not once mentioned here). When he comments on the paranoia of rightist populism, he does not reflect upon the paranoia of leftist views such as his own which justify their own contempt of certain political leaders and trends out of a mistaken belief that they signal a threat to America’s well-being rather than a part of the cure to people like the author. The author’s singular lack of ability in removing the beam out of his own eye when it comes to seeing himself and his political associates for who they are makes his attempts to diagnose Texas’ soul for its supposed defects and flaws laughable and ridiculous. Sadly, as is all too often the case, the author fails because he has not examined his own soul to a sufficient degree that he can address the soul of anyone or anything else. Physician, heal thyself.