By Glenn Dromgoole
Two new books we’ve received at Texas Star Trading Company feature Lady Bird Johnson. Another tells the story of legendary McMurry University basketball coach Hershel Kimbrell. And two Texas poets toured the 62 National Parks and wrote poems about them.
FIRST LADY: Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight by Julia Sweig is credited by one scholar as “the best book ever written about one of the most influential – and least understood – First Ladies in history.” Another previewer calls it “a fascinating portrait of a marriage – and of a shrewd, tough, tender, and wise woman who understood the uses and limits of power.”
The book draws heavily from Lady Bird’s own White House diaries and deals almost exclusively with her years as First Lady (Random House, $32 hardcover).
There’s also a new children’s picture book, Lady Bird Johnson, That’s Who! The Story of a Cleaner and Greener America, by Tracy Nelson Maurer, illustrated by Ginnie Hsu (Henry Holt, $18.99 hardcover). It offers a brief biography of the First Lady, focusing on her efforts to beautify the countryside.
COACH: Hershel Kimbrell, McMurry’s basketball coach for 31 years, is the subject of veteran Texas author Caleb Pirtle III’s book, Never Afraid, Never a Doubt ($19.95 paperback).
Pirtle writes that Kimbrell “did not have magic scribbled on that clipboard he carried into battle, but the coaches who coached with him and against him, the players who played for him and against him, believed he did.
“Just give him the kids nobody else wanted, kids with heart and desire, and he would make them better than they thought they were. He would turn them into champions.”
Pirtle fills Kimbrell’s amazing story with testimonies from players and coaches whose lives were transformed by their mentor. Kimbrell, who retired in 1990, still lives in Abilene. He will be 94 in April.
PARKS: Texas poets karla k. morton and Alan Birkelbach set out on a monumental task to visit all 62 of America’s National Parks and write poems about them. They passed through Abilene a couple of Christmases ago and stopped by Texas Star Trading to visit, and we had an impromptu poetry reading in our store.
The National Parks: A Century of Grace (TCU Press, $54.95 hardcover) is the extraordinary coffee table book they produced, filled with lavish color photos (taken by the poets) and the wonderful word pictures they were inspired to write. Birkelbach was Texas Poet Laureate in 2005, morton in 2010.
The poets introduce each park with a one-page description, followed by a poem from each of them, and complemented by a full-page color photo and three smaller photos.
Chapters are arranged chronologically — by when they were designated National Park status — beginning with Yellowstone (1872) and concluding with White Sands (2019). Two Texas parks are included: Big Bend National Park (1944) and Guadalupe Mountains (1966).