These five recent good books deal with a wide spectrum of topics, from artificial reefs to the Wild West to urban search and rescue.
The Ship That Would Not Die: USS Queens, SS Excambion, and USTS Texas Clipper
By Stephen Curley – with an afterword by J. Dale Shively
(Texas A&M Press, hardback, list price $29.95)
This intriguing, well-illustrated coffe-table book tells the story of a World War II attack transport that became a luxury passenger-cargo liner and then the first Texas Clipper training ship for Texas A&M’s Texas Maritime Academy.
From 1965 to until mothballed in 1994, the Texas Clipper hauled merchant marine cadets and Navy ROTC midshipmen to sea. In 2007, finally worn out, the ship was towed into the Gulf of Mexico and deliberately sunk to help create an artificial reef.
In his afterword, J. Dale Shively notes: “Her fourth existence is now full of marine life growing on her decks and fish swimming in and out of her openings.” The sunken vessel reportedly now generates up to $4 million annually in fishing and diving revenues for Texas businesses.
Fort Worth, Texas, writer-photographer Bud Force’s inspiring overview focuses on one of the nation’s finest emergency response teams: Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1).
Organized in 1997, TX-TF1 has been called to some of America’s worst disasters, including the World Trade Center terror attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia.
Texas Task Force 1’s 450-plus members include firefighters, medical personnel, canine handlers, heavy equipment operators and others with special skills. Proceeds from the sale of this book help support Texas Task Force 1.
Give this author credit for (1) biting off a bigger topic than anyone can chew and (2) producing an excellent and important study in the process. The ponderous and massive Texas legal system is built upon a multinational heritage that has included Mexican and Spanish civil law and English common law, as well as laws from the state’s days as a republic, he notes.
Texas’ current homestead and bankruptcy laws, for example, have roots in the days when the Republic of Texas was a haven for people from across the United States fleeing debts. And, “[a] willingness to do justice on the cheap” led to the creation, in 1891, of two supreme courts in the state.
Tension quivers throughout this tightly crafted, well-written Western novel. A hater of Indians who is now a tormented outlaw finds himself falling in love with a woman who was kidnapped as a child and raised as an Indian. The outlaw also is being pressured to become a desperate town’s lawman, and he realizes it is almost the only way to save his life.
Robert Flynn’s previous novel, Echoes of Glory, won a 2010 Western Writers of America Spur Award. His newly published sequel to Jade: Outlaw is titled Jade: The Law.
Details at 10: Behind the Headlines of Texas Television History
By Bert N. Shipp
(The History Press, paperback, list price $19.99)
Bert Shipp’s memoir is drawn from his long career as a Dallas TV newsman, and the book is an entertaining blend of recollections and “true stories about the birth and early childhood…of one of the most pervasive electronic forces in our lives and of the news people who created it.”
Shipp worked at the heart of Dallas-Fort Worth TV news for nearly 50 years, lugging heavy cameras and sound gear to cover local, national and international events before advancing to top editor positions.
– Si Dunn‘s latest book is a detective novel, Erwin’s Law. His other published works include Jump, a novella, and a book of poetry, plus several short stories, all available on Kindle. He is a freelance book reviewer and a former technical writer and software/hardware QA tester.