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In the tradition of Ian Frazier's Great Plains, and as vivid as the work of Cormac McCarthy, an intoxicating, singularly illuminating history of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of Roger D. Hodge's ranching family.
What brought the author's family to Texas? What is it about Texas that for centuries has exerted a powerful allure for adventurers and scoundrels, dreamers and desperate souls, outlaws and outliers? In search of answers, Hodge travels across his home state--which he loves and hates in shifting measure--tracing the wanderings of his ancestors into forgotten histories along vanished roads. Here is an unsentimental, keenly insightful attempt to grapple with all that makes Texas so magical, punishing, and polarizing. Here is a spellbindingly evocative portrait of the borderlands--with its brutal history of colonization, conquest, and genocide; where stories of death and drugs and desperation play out daily. And here is a contemplation of what it means that the ranching industry that has sustained families like Hodge's for almost two centuries is quickly fading away, taking with it a part of our larger, deep-rooted cultural inheritance. A wholly original fusion of memoir and history--as piercing as it is elegiac--Texas Blood is a triumph.
About the Author
ROGER D. HODGE is deputy editor of The Intercept and author of The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism. Formerly he was the editor of the Oxford American and Harper's Magazine. Hodge's writings have appeared in many publications, including Texas Monthly, the London Review of Books, Popular Science, The New Republic, and Harper's. His essay "Blood and Time: Cormac McCarthy and the Twilight of the West" was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for criticism. He lives in Brooklyn.
“All [of Roger D. Hodge’s] effort has produced a book that will be beloved by Texans and fascinating to anyone else who wants to understand why the strange geographical category of ‘state’ still matters in our ostensibly globalized age. . . . How wonderful it would be to have not only a ‘Texas Blood’ but a ‘California Blood,’ then a ‘Pennsylvania Blood,’ then a ‘Puerto Rico Blood,’ slowly shading in the vast and mysterious American map.” —Craig Fehrman, San Francisco Chronicle
“[Roger D. Hodge is] smart, observant, and skeptical. . . . ‘Texas Blood’ is a rich journey.” —Stephen Harrigan, The New York Times Book Review
“This is part elegy, part picaresque, part memoir and part history, all bound together in prose that is by turns lyrical and slashing. . . . We're all just passing through this barbarous country. Splendid writers like Hodge, with a sharp sense of history and a loving but unsparing pen, help us understand what we're seeing as we go.” —Dallas News
“Heartbreaking and mesmerizing… Hodge combines a journalist’s eye with a native son’s love to give readers clear insight into southwestern Texas’s past, present, and future.” —Publishers Weekly
“Imagine finding out that the land where Cormac McCarthy set one of his most brutal novels was your family's ranch . . . I've read loads of books about Texas but rarely encountered one so deeply of it, so deep the story escapes and becomes a treatise on the twisted American past, and the force exerted by that on our complex present.” —John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“A fusion of historical narrative, memoir, exposé, and lament, Texas Blood is a rigorously-researched, compassionate examination of one of our country’s most polarizing states. Hodge casts an unflinching eye on the violence of the borderlands, yet does so with the tender lyricism and spiritual acumen of the best Cormac McCarthy. He deftly traverses the panoply of his home state’s shifting histories and landscapes while never losing sight of the individual: a suppliant walking barefoot, a child’s forgotten grave, the murdered body of a family friend. Texas Blood is a timely, important work: in grappling with Texas, Roger Hodge is holding America’s own deeply-troubled feet to the fire.” —Jamie Quatro, author of I Want to Show You More
“Hypnotically written, deeply researched, profoundly elegiac—the adverbs pile up, and with good reason. Roger D. Hodge has written a wonderful book about our most vexed and peculiarly American state, with an eye for detail and anecdote that's as loving as it is merciless.” —Tom Bissell, author of Apostle
“A thoughtful portrait of a hard and beautiful place: part ethnography, part literary criticism, part family and regional history, always personal… Sincere, accurate, and open-minded, sometimes intimate, this book qualifies as a true primary source. After the present of Texas Blood has become past, Hodge’s observations and summations will still be well worth reading.” –William T. Vollmann, author of The Dying Grass
“Texas Blood blends the personal and the historical to create a vivid portrait of a place unable to transcend its violent past. Roger D. Hodge is a very gifted writer, and he tells his story with the energy of a perfectly paced novel.” —Ron Rash, author of Serena
“In Texas Blood, Roger Hodge takes the reader on journeys through intricate maps of the past and present, through politics and luck and greed and death, but always returning to the beautiful, unforgiving land of his heritage.” —Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon
“Roger Hodge has crafted a masterful alloy of memoir and reportage, of social criticism and regional history. Texas Blood is an unforgettable foray into our most mysterious, violent, myth-soaked state, a portrait of enormous talent and skill that reveals precisely what America is.” —William Giraldi, author of Hold the Dark