New Release Books by Don Graham

Don Graham is the author of Giant (2018), Giant Country (2013), State of Minds (2011), State Fare (2008), Coming Home Whole (2018) and other 67 books.

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Giant

release date: Apr 10, 2018
Giant
A larger-than-life narrative of the making of the classic film, marking the rise of America as a superpower, the ascent of Hollywood celebrity, and the flowering of Texas culture as mythology. Featuring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, Giant is an epic film of fame and materialism, based around the discovery of oil at Spindletop and the establishment of the King Ranch of south Texas. Isolating his star cast in the wilds of West Texas, director George Stevens brought together a volatile mix of egos, insecurities, sexual proclivities, and talent. Stevens knew he was overwhelmed with Hudson’s promiscuity, Taylor’s high diva-dom, and Dean’s egotistical eccentricity. Yet he coaxed performances out of them that made cinematic history, winning Stevens the Academy Award for Best Director and garnering nine other nominations, including a nomination for Best Actor for James Dean, who died before the film was finished. In this compelling and impeccably researched narrative history of the making of the film, Don Graham chronicles the stories of Stevens, whose trauma in World War II intensified his ambition to make films that would tell the story of America; Edna Ferber, a considerable literary celebrity, who meets her match in the imposing Robert Kleberg, proprietor of the vast King Ranch; and Glenn McCarthy, an American oil tycoon; and Errol Flynn lookalike with a taste for Hollywood. Drawing on archival sources Graham’s Giant is a comprehensive depiction of the film’s production showing readers how reality became fiction and fiction became cinema.

Giant Country

release date: May 31, 2013
Giant Country
In Giant Country Don Graham brings together a collection of lively, absorbing essays written over the past two decades. The collection begins with a twist on book introductions that sets the tone for the essays to come—a self-interview conducted poolside at an eccentric Houston motel favored by regional rock bands. Over piña coladas the author works on his tan and discusses timeless Texas themes: the transition of the state from a rural to an urban world, the sense of a vanishing era, and the way that artists in literature and film represent a state both infectiously grand and too big for its britches. In “Fildelphia Story,” Graham remembers his Ivy League professorial stint in a city the small-town Texan who rented him a moving van looked up under “F.” In “Doing England” the Lone Star Yankee courts Oxford University and returns with a veddy British education. In “The Ground Sense Necessary” a native son journeys inward to explore the dry ceremonies of frontier Protestantism and to recount movingly his father's funeral in Collin County. With his wide-ranging knowledge of classic regional works, Graham unerringly traces the style and substance of local literary giants and offers a sometimes irreverent but always entertaining look at the Texas triumvirate of Dobie, Webb and Bedichek. Other essays look at such Texas greats as Katherine Anne Porter, George Sessions Perry, William Humphrey and John Graves. In a section he calls “Polemics,” Graham includes his best known essays, “Palefaces vs. Redskins,” a sardonic survey of the Texas literary landscape, and “Anything for Larry,” a tour de force that has already become a minor classic. The essay weighs the puny financial achievements of Graham against those of mega-author Larry McMurtry and never fails to bring down the house when Graham gives a public reading. A recognized authority on celluloid Texas, Graham provides a rich sampling of his knowledge of Texas movies in pieces that blanket the territory from moo-cow cattle-drive epics to soggy Alamo sagas to urban cowboy melodramas. In the larger-than-life state that is Texas, nobody sizes up the Lone-Star mythos, its interpreters, boosters and detractors better than Don Graham.

State of Minds

release date: Mar 29, 2011
State of Minds
John Steinbeck once famously wrote that "Texas is a state of mind." For those who know it well, however, the Lone Star State is more than one mind-set, more than a collection of clichés, more than a static stereotype. There are minds in Texas, Don Graham asserts, and some of the most important are the writers and filmmakers whose words and images have helped define the state to the nation, the world, and the people of Texas themselves. For many years, Graham has been critiquing Texas writers and films in the pages of Texas Monthly and other publications. In State of Minds, he brings together and updates essays he published between 1999 and 2009 to paint a unique, critical picture of Texas culture. In a strong personal voice—wry, humorous, and ironic—Graham offers his take on Texas literary giants ranging from J. Frank Dobie to Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy and on films such as The Alamo, The Last Picture Show, and Brokeback Mountain. He locates the works he discusses in relation to time and place, showing how they sprang (or not) from the soil of Texas and thereby helped to define Texas culture for generations of readers and viewers—including his own younger self growing up on a farm in Collin County. Never shying from controversy and never dull, Graham's essays in State of Minds demolish the notion that "Texas culture" is an oxymoron.

State Fare

release date: Jan 01, 2008
State Fare
From the earliest days of film, Texas and its colorful history offered promising story lines comprised of heroes, images, lore, and legend that filmmakers could return to again and again. And so they did in films about the Alamo, the Texas Rangers, the ubiquitous cowboy and the trail drives, big ranchers, and bigger wildcatters. With the advent of the Talkies, Texas movies continued to be a staple of Hollywood backlot productions, mainly in the form of B Westerns. In the golden age of Texas cinema--dating from the end of World War II to the assassination of JFK--the Western continued to be the predominant genre. A roll call of the most notable Texas movies would include Red River, Giant (probably the single most influential Texas movie of all), The Searchers, Hud and The Last Picture Show. The reader is invited to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear as well as to consider the most recent cinematic efforts to capture one of the nation's most mythologized places. After a brief overview of Texas in the movies, the book offers detailed commentary on the most important, the most interesting, or, in a few cases, the most wretched films about the Lone Star State.

Coming Home Whole

release date: Mar 16, 2018
Coming Home Whole
It's 1969, and America's youth is reveling in new freedoms. But for California native Don Graham, like so many other men his age, the future feels anything but unfettered. Once a staunch patriot, he does not want to kill or be killed in what he sees as the country's unjust war in Vietnam. Yet his options for avoiding the draft are few and frightening. Suddenly, the graduate study he's planned no longer yields deferment; he's married, but without the children that would also keep him at home. At 23, Don stands at a crossroads where every one of the signposts-pointing toward prison, exile, self-injury, or a far-away field of combat-foretells danger to body and soul. Ultimately, he reports for induction as ordered. Before he leaves for Vietnam a gifted intuitive gives him hope for a safe return; while there, another unexpected message foretells an imminent release from warfare. How can this be? Coming Home Whole is a firsthand look at the Vietnam War era, the conflicts that helped shape it at home and abroad, and the experiences of one man caught amid its contradictions. It is at once a wry, warm and wise coming-of-age story...a celebration of the two remarkable women at the heart of a young man's life...and a meditation on the way that unseen forces take us in directions we could never have imagined, in ways we can hardly believe.

No Name on the Bullet

release date: Jan 01, 1989
No Name on the Bullet
Profiles the baby-faced soldier who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor and became the most decorated soldier in American history as a teenager and went on to become a Hollywood star before slipping into a life of dissolution

Kings of Texas

release date: Dec 22, 2010
Kings of Texas
Praise for KINGS OF TEXAS "Kings of Texas is a fresh and very welcome history of the great King Ranch. It's concise but thorough, crisply written, meticulous, and very readable. It should find a wide audience." -Larry McMurtry, author of Sin Killer and the Pulitzer Prize--winning Lonesome Dove "This book is about the King Ranch, but it is about much more than that. A compelling chronicle of war, peace, love, betrayal, birth, and death in the region where the Texas-Mexico border blurs in the haze of the Wild Horse Desert, it is also an intriguing detective story with links to the present-and a first-rate read." -H.W. Brands, author of The Age of Gold and the bestselling Pulitzer Prize finalist The First American

Cowboys and Cadillacs

release date: Jan 01, 1983
Cowboys and Cadillacs
Discusses Hollywood movies made about past and present Texas, looks at westerns, and describes the stereotypes portrayed in films about Texas

Daisies, Diamonds & Dugouts

release date: Apr 30, 2021
Daisies, Diamonds & Dugouts
It's the storied history of the Fort Wayne Daisies (Indiana) who were members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-54) from (1945-54).
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