Click Here To Purchase Heroes of a Texas Childhood

Author: Kinky Friedman

Publisher: Kismet Press

ISBN-10: 0615306853:  ISBN-13: 978-0615306858


You don’t have to live in Texas to know the name Kinky Friedman. But if you reside outside of the Lone Star State, you might not know just how many arenas Friedman is involved in. He’s known far and wide for his music, humor, and novels. In Texas, he’s equally known for his politics and his 2006 run for the office of Governor. This description is but a snapshot of his interests and career, and “snapshots” is also an apt term to describe his short Heroes of a Texas Childhood.    

Heroes is a non-fiction literary portrait gallery of Friedman’s personal mentors as well as his creative and political influences. It’s a series of character sketches that are as Texan as a field of blue bonnets outside a Tex-Mex eatery. Some of his choices are very personal indeed like his father Tom and his “second mother, Lottie Cotton. But most are important figures of his state from The Alamo to the present. From the 19th century, Friedman likes Sam Houston, Juan Seguin, Davy Crocket, James Bonham, Quanah Parker, Bigfoot Wallace, and Emily Morgan—the original “Yellow Rose of Texas.” Later historical figures include war hero Audie Murphy, colorful attorney Racehorse Haynes, and civil rights pioneers Heman Sweatt and Henry B. Gonzalez.

The aspects Friedman admires most in all these personalities are courage and independence. He also sees these characteristics in Texas politicians Barbara Jordan, Sam Rayburn, Ann Richards, Ralph Yarborough, and non-elected spokespersons   like Lady Bird Johnson and cowboy cartoonist Ace Reid. He finds an affinity with fellow writers who used local color or satirical bents to do more than entertain, names like   Molly Ivins, J. Frank Dobie, and John Henry Faulk. Interestingly, the only musician to make the list is Willie Nelson, and that chapter, “Notes on a Bus,” is more an interview than third-person essay.

Throughout, Friedman is not trying to provide fully fleshed out biographies nor give a linear capsule history of his own mind. It does seem the early descriptions are of people he knew personally to one degree or another before diving into quick appreciations of figures who might have local fame but are largely unknown today. For example, Emily Morgan distracted Mexican dictator Santa Anna on the eve of the Battle of San Jacinto due to his lust for her “yellow” beauty, yellow being the adjective used for mixed-bloods at the time. Hence, the “Yellow Rose of Texas” was a lady who saved the state by sleeping with the enemy. Her sacrifice is perhaps the most unusual of the batch, but it seems clear Friedman thinks courage means a willingness to make such sacrifices and take on the powerful for the rights of those without voices or influence.  

The book is full of such lore, trivia, and insights into few saints and many sinners who made a difference, some large-scale, some just for a Texas boy once known as Richard S. Friedman. In every example, Friedman succinctly gets at the spirit of his subjects and the flavor of their times and achievements. Spicing things up are illustrations from Copper Love. This is a readable, engaging, and—dare I say?—educational romp that both teaches and preaches. The lessons Friedman learned are well worth sharing in all 50 states, especially the 49 who might not know just what makes the best of Texas tick.

Click Here To Purchase Heroes of a Texas Childhood