The 22nd annual Texas Book Festival took over the Texas State Capitol and surrounding blocks this weekend. I attended sessions on both Saturday and Sunday. Several were at the huge CSPAN tent on 12th Street, and the rest were in the Capitol Extension building.
This festival has been (mostly) free in past years, except for some evening events. However, the organizers tried a new approach this year and pre-sold tickets for the three most popular sessions: the Bush twins (Jenna and Barbara), Dan Rather, and Tom Hanks. Since the proceeds from this festival benefit Texas libraries, this makes sense. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure of my weekend plans, so I didn’t get tickets and didn’t see any of those celebrities. The free sessions seemed less crowded than usual, and I wondered if that was because everyone was at the ticketed sessions.
Here’s the 2017 sessions that I attended:
Hidden Histories of World War II
Authors: Liza Mundy and Meridth Hindley
Moderator: James Hornfischer
Hindley wrote Destination Casablanca, a book about refugees who went to Casablanca during WWII. She found a wealth of material at the US Holocaust Museum. Mundy joked that, while Hindley was traveling in Europe, she was interviewing 90-year-old women in nursing homes for her book about female code breakers during the war.
Exit Right: The Origin of Politics
Author: Daniel Oppenheimer
Moderator: Jeff Salamon
Oppenheimer wrote Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century. His book is about six people who started out as liberals and eventually become more conservative: David Horowitz, James Bernham Ronald Regan, Norman Podhoretz, Christopher Hitchens, and Whittaker Chambers.
Falsehoods, Forgeries and Fake News
Authors: Kevin Young and Jared Yates Sexton
Moderator: Brian Sweany
Both Sexton and Young are college professors. Sexton wrote articles about the Trump campaign. Young has written a book titled Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug,Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.
After the Uprising: The Shi’a / Sunni Divide
Author: Geneive Abdo
Moderator: Christopher Rose
Abdo’s book, The New Sectarianism, focuses on the religious aspects of the current Mideast conflicts. She explained that this religious dispute between Shi’as and Sunnis has been going on for over 1600 years and started over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad. Conflicts had been simmering under the surface until the Arab Uprising and deteriorated into sectarian violence when the uprisings failed. Religious identity has became more important than national identity in the Mideast. She believes that people in the region still look to the US for direction.
Red Young & His Hot Horns were a toe-tappin’ crowd favorite at the Antone’s Music Tent on Saturday afternoon.
A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things
Author: Raj Patel
Moderators: Eric Tang, Sharmla Rudlappa
Patel gave an entertaining, but thought-provoking, presentation on Capitalism. His thesis was that humans are taking advantage of nature, work, food, care, energy, money, and lives—“seven cheap things.”
Badass Historical Women
Authors: Sherry Thomas, Melissa Lenhardt
Moderator: Tiffany Yates Martin
These two authors talked about how they created strong female characters in their books. Thomas writes historical romances, including a series about a female Sherlock Holmes. Lenhardt’s historical fiction books are set in Texas and inspired by her father’s love of Westerns.
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