New York Times-bestselling author Harrigan brings to life the generations of driven men and women who shaped Texas, including Spanish explorers, American filibusters, Comanche warriors, wildcatters, Tejano activists, and spellbinding artists.
Harrigan, essentially, is to Texas literature what Willie Nelson is to Texas music ... And his latest book might just be the one he was born to write. Big Wonderful Thing, a sprawling history of the Lone Star state, showcases Harrigan's enthusiasm for Texas — it's an endlessly fascinating look at how the state has evolved over the years ... He does an excellent job exploring the dynamics between the Spanish and French settlers and the indigenous people — Apaches, Comanches and others — who took exception to having their homeland colonized ... Past histories of Texas have focused heavily on the accomplishments, both real and legendary, of white men. But Harrigan, thankfully, doesn't forget the wide range of people that made Texas what it is ... Books as long as Big Wonderful Thing can often seem intimidating rather than inviting, but Harrigan's book is so beautifully written, it actually leaves the reader wanting more. It's clear that he loves the state, but he's refreshingly unwilling to perpetuate the mythology that's built up around it — the truth, he seems to argue, is much more interesting than the apocryphal stories that have persisted for decades ... Texas is an incredibly fascinating state — and Harrigan, who recognizes that the state's diversity is what makes it great, truly does it justice. Endlessly readable and written with great care, Big Wonderful Thing is just that.
... a Texas-sized book ... Lavishly illustrated, fully annotated, brimming with sass, intelligence, trenchant analysis, literary acumen and juicy details, it is a page-turner that can be read straight through or at random. It is big. It is popular history at its best .. unfolds a panorama—one damned thing after another, especially of battles and skirmishes for much of its first half—and it does so with gusto, affection and sobriety. Mr. Harrigan has a ready-made cast of characters who prove that truth is stranger than fiction.
Harrigan uses his stupendous storytelling skills to great effect. He covers the state’s major historical events from inventive angles, introduces newly discovered archaeological and archival research, and excels at puffing up many of Texas’s larger-than-life personalities.