The following is a list of the Best Books to Read (in one persons opinion) to learn about West Texas History and Culture, and the best field guides for the flora and fauna. (Please suggest other books for this list!)
Geology and Overview of History
- Deep Time - Paul Carlson - TTU press; 2005
This is an incredible overview of the region and should be paired with The Future of the Great Plains described below.
Unfortunately, there is no books that explore the use of the region by Lipan and Mescalero Apache, the Kiowa, the Jumano, or the Jornada Mogollon. There are many books on most of these groups, where a person can learn about their culture and role in history. Their use of the Llano Estacado has to be winnowed from these books and from books on the Spanish era and the early Anglo settlement period. For the Jornada-Mogollon, archaeology reports and books are the source of information.
- Los Comanches - Stanley Noyes - U of NM press; 1993
There are a number of books on the Comanches. This is the most entertaining read available. It covers the 1700s and early 1800s (until 1845).
- The Last Captive - A.C. Greene - Encino Press; 1972, reprint?
This is the story of Herman Lehmann, a captive of the Apaches and Comanches during the 1870s.
Hispanic Use of the Region
- New Views of Borderlands History - Ed. Robert Jackson - U of NM Press; 1998
A serious ethnohistorical interpretation of Spanish-Indian interaction from Florida to California. Not until after the 1970s did the American press publish more than a handful of non-biased books about the Spanish period in the American Southwest.
- The Comanchero Frontier - Charles Kenner - U of Okla; 1969; 1994 paperback
When published in 1969 it was entitled Spanish-Indian Relationships in New Mexico. It does an excellent job of detailing the relationships between the Spanish and the Comanches (and Apaches).
- Joses Buffalo Hunt - Marc Simmons - U of NM; 2003
This childrens book is a great introduction to the Ciboleros, who hunted annually on the Llano Estacado from 1770-1875. Simmons was the official New Mexico historian.
- Nuevo Mexico Cultural Legacy - Lomeli, et. al. - U of NM; 2002
This book reveals the rich cultural history of the Spanish settlers in New Mexico. Like the Jackson book, it is multi-cultural.
- Bless Me Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya - Grand Central Publishing; 1994 (paperback)
This is an excellent novel about a young man growing up along the Pecos River during the Depression. It explores the mestizo spiritual duality between both Indian and Western pathways as well as portray life for a Hispanic child during that time.
- The Lore of New Mexico - Weigle and White - U of NM; 1990 reprint
This gives an amazing amount of cultural information for not only the Hispanic population of the region, but also Indian and Anglo.
Anglo Frontier Days
- El Llano Estacado - John Miller Morris - Tx State Hist. Assoc.; 1997
The best overview of the history of the region before 1836, contrasting Hispanic and Anglo land use ethics and perceptions of the land.
- Fort Concho and the Texas Frontier - J. Evetts Haley - San Angelo paper; 1952
West Texas Legacy Press reprinted this in 2007. This is the best review of U.S. army versus Indian during the last years before settlement.
- Life in the Saddle - Frank Collinson - U of Okla; 1997
This reprint of a 1963 book is the best description of the life of an Anglo buffalo hunter (even though he was English). Most of the book was published in magazines in the 1920s. Collinson was one of the Forlorn Hope, the buffalo hunters during Captain Nolans tragic journey in 1877.
- The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 - Paul Carlson - Texas A&M Press; 2003
Carlson is the Llano Estacados most prolific historian. All of his works are meticulously researched and well written. This story should be made into a movie!
- Buffalo Guns/Barbed Wire - Don Biggers - TTU Press; 1991 reprint
Biggers was an early day newspaperman who interviewed many of the original settlers of the many towns where he ran a newspaper. It contains a number of prejudicial attitudes about non-whites. It is an excellent first hand account of the period, however.
- Alkali Trail - William Curry Holden - TTU Press 1930; 1998 paperback
Holden, as an early dean of history at Texas Tech, influenced much of official Llano Estacado history, including the formation of the Ranching Heritage Museum on campus. He gives a great overview of the major forces at work during the early settlement years.
- Charles Goodnight - J. Evetts Haley - U of Okla; 1936; 1989 9th printing
Everyone should know about Charlie Goodnight one of the fairest men of the early years on the Llano, and a superb scout, natural history observer, and businessman.
- C.C.Slaughter - David Murrah - UT press; 1981
Slaughter once ran cattle over millions of acres of West Texas land during the open-range era and through the 1910s. Murrah was the head of the Southwest Collections at Texas Tech and was another major historian of the region.
- Halff of Texas - Patrick Dearen - Encino Press; 2000
Meyer Halff and son Henry Halff were also open-range ranchers. Henry was a major player in early Midland.
- Rollie Burns - William Curry Holden - Texas A&M; 1986 reprint
Rollie Burns was an early day cattleman near Lubbock. The book chronicles the coming of the farmers and the early days of Lubbock.
- Big Spring - Shine Phillips - Phillips Press; 2007 paperback
This is a reprint of a book published in 1943. Phillips records the doings of Big Spring in the early days in a humorous way an excellent read!
- Caprock Canyonlands - Dan Flores - UT Press; 1990
Flores covers the gamut of Llano Estacado history, including some of its ecohistory. His opinions irritate many readers, but the details reveal an excellent effort at research.
Elmer Keltons best books (Kelton is the southern Llano Estacados best novelist)
- The Wolf and the Buffalo A story about a buffalo soldier and a Comanche an excellent fictional rendering of the end of Comanche dominance.
- The Day the Cowboys Quit The cowboys of the free-range era in the Panhandle quit because of the foreign capitalists (owners of huge ranches) and their rules.
- Honor at Daybreak Oil boomtowns litter the landscape of West Texas. This novel comes from Keltons memories of growing up near Crane. During the 1930s the region was wilder than during the settlement days (organized crime and prohibition plus instant oil riches.)
- The Time It Never Rained A sheeprancher refuses government help and goes it alone in the drought of the 1950s, with the aid of an Hispanic family.
- Walking around in the wind - Helen Fields - TCU Press; 1995
Life on a hardscrabble farm in Garza county, mostly fondly remembered.
- Colorado City, Cowboys, Country Doctors - Jim Baum - self published; 2004
Jim Baum, a former mayor of Colorado City, the owner of its radio station, recorded hundreds of interviews with old-timers and later published stories from them in the local paper. He has collected them into bookform. He is a deft storyteller, with an eye for the hook, the interesting tidbits that grab your attention.
- Prairie Gothic - John Erickson- U of North Tex; 2005
Erickson, best known for his kids stories featuring Hank the Cowdog, chronicles his families interactions with the Llano Estacado (including being the Singer of Singers Store, the first building in Lubbock.)
- Roundup of Memories - Olan George - Pioneer Books; 1987
Full of tales of Fort Stockton area from the 1920s to 1950s, this book is out of print and hard to find. It is a delightful read.
- Starting from Pyron - Jane Gilmore Rushing - TTU press; 1992
Rushing published 5 novels about the region around Snyder, from the open range days to modern times. All should be part of the reading list of high school students of the region. This book chronicles the beginnings and end of a small town near Snyder, where she lived as a child.
- Lea, New Mexicos Last Frontier - Gil Hinshaw - Hobbs Daily Sun; 1984
One of the best done county histories of the region, Hinshaws book is well researched and cohesive.
- Elmer Keltons Country - Elmer Kelton - TCU press; 1993
This book is a collection of non-fiction articles he published for San Angelo area publications. Many more await in his collection at Texas Tech and hopefully more will be published.
- Prairie Nights to Neon Lights - Carr and Munde - TTU press; 1995
Carr and Munde record all of the country music legends that began on the Llano Estacado. Both are well known bluegrass professionals.
- Fire in the water, Earth in the Air - Chris Oglesby - UT press; 2006
Oglesby chronicles the rock and roll legends that began their careers on the Llano Estacado.
- Dugout to Deco - Elizabeth Sasser - TTU press; 1993
Sassers book ably records the different architectural styles common to the Llano Estacado. Her book should be in the car of a daytripper just to search out buildings she mentions and photographed.
- The Milnesand Prairie Chicken Festival is the premier "lesser prairie chicken experience" on the Llano Estacado. Professional biologists and local folks put on a wonderful weekend every April for 100 attendees. Before a participant comes, the festival promoters provides this reading list that superbly adds to the experience. Click here to view a photoessay on the festival. Here is a list of related "Suggested Good Reads."
- The Future of the Great Plains - ed. Sherry Smith - U of Okla; 2003
This book ably addresses the issues that will face residents of the region in the future but it did not predict the coming of the wind generator (to the extent that is currently evolving.)
Natural History Books
- Wildflowers of the Guadalupe Mountains and Sanddune Country - Barton Warnock - out of print/ rare
Dr. Warnock was Sul Ross Universitys botany professor for 40 years, and with a family history rooted in ranching, was able to gain access to almost any ranch in the region. He named over 50 plants, and over 10 were named for him. This book covers the southern Llano and the sanddunes to the west, as well as the mysterious and remote Guadalupe Mountains.
- Wildflowers of the Southern Great Plains - Zoe Merriman Kirkpatrick - UT Press; 1992
Kirkpatrick, a ranchwoman from near Post, turned a lifelong interest in photographing wildflowers into the best book on wildflowers for the northern Llano Estacado.
- Reptiles and Amphibians of Texas - Garrett and Barker - Tx. Monthly; 1987
The most user friendly guide to the coldblooded.
- Mammals of Texas - Schmidly - TPWD; 1994
Like the above book, user friendly, and covers the complete state.
- Butterflies of America - Pyle - Audubon; 1981
Until a Texas guide is published, this one is best for carrying into the field.
- Dragonflies of Texas - John Abbott - UT Press; 2007 second ed.
Abbott also has Odonata Central on the Internet. This is where citizen science is headed an interactive recording of the organisms for each and every county.
- Birds of Texas - Roger Tory Peterson - Houghton Mifflin; 1963
This has been reprinted a number of times. Petersons system of fieldmarks is the best way for beginners to learn about how to identify birds. Birders are amazing for the number of records accrued, and for the competitive nature of their sport.