Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Patrick Dearen

If you've read my blog much, you know how much I love Texas history. It has been a passion of mine my entire life. I would not say I that I am an amateur Texas historian, but I am well read and quite knowledgeable on certain periods of the subject.

Over the years, I've read all the giants of Texas literature, such as J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and John Graves. And of course, I've read my favorite Texas fiction writers, such as Elmer Kelton and Larry McMurtry. I've even read Frederick Law Olmsted's A Journey through Texas; only serious Texas historians can make that claim. And then there are the less well known Texas writers, such as Hallie Stillwell and Sallie Reynolds Matthews; although not as well known as others, these folks have made a great contribution in recording regional history of our state.

My latest discovery is Patrick Dearen. Now, I've known about Mr. Dearen for many years, at least since 1991 when -- if I recall correctly, -- I attended an event in which he was the guest speaker, but I've simply neglected to read any of his works. A few weeks ago, though, I checked out 2 of his books, and I've been plowing through them since then.

For the most part, Mr. Dearen is a tireless and devoted historian. In his work, he will focus on a specific aspect of Texas history and do some very thorough research, even to the point of hiking to secluded and forgotten spots. Most -- if not all -- of his work seems to center on West Texas, and dwells on topics that have been neglected in the past. For example, I just finished reading Crossing Rio Pecos. This book thoroughly explores the numerous fords and crossings of the once treacherous Pecos River, which at one time formed a formidable barrier to east-west travel in the state.

But Mr. Dearen has also written a few novels. I cannot comment on these, as I've yet to read any. But they are certainly on my list.

If you are a serious student of Texas history, especially of Texas west of the Pecos, then you should really look into Mr. Dearen's work. You will not be disappointed. I'm just sorry it has taken me so long to give his work a chance.

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