More than 13,000 historical markers line the roadsides of Texas, giving drivers a way to sample the stories of the past. But these markers tell only part of the story.
In History Ahead, Dan K. Utley and Cynthia J. Beeman introduce readers to the rich, colorful, and sometimes action-packed and humorous history behind the famous (Charles Lindbergh, Will Rogers, The Big Bopper, and jazz great Charlie Christian) and the not-so-famous (Elmer "Lumpy" Kleb, Don Pedro Jaramillo, and Carl Morene, the "music man of Schulenburg") who have left their marks on the history of Texas. They visit cotton gins, abandoned airfields, forgotten cemeteries, and former World War II alien detention camps to dig up the little-known and unsuspected narratives behind the text emblazoned on these markers.
Written in an anecdotal style that presents the cultural uniqueness and rich diversity of Texas history, History Ahead includes nineteen main stories, dozens of complementary sidebars, and many never-before-published historical and contemporary photographs.
History Ahead offers a rich array of local stories that interweave with the broader regional and national context, touching on themes of culture, art, music, technology, the environment, oil, aviation, and folklore, among other topics. Utley and Beeman have located these forgotten gems, polished them up to a high shine, and offered them along with convenient maps and directions to the marker sites.
What Readers Are Saying:
"As a work designed to tell the stories "behind" selected Texas historical markers, it will make a worthwhile contribution to the understanding and appreciation of the regional past. . . the outstanding features are the compelling nature of the stories that the authors selected and the careful way in which they recounted these stories in order to intrigue the readers. They did a superb job."--T. Lindsay Baker, W. K. Gordon Chair, Tarleton State University
". . . thoroughly researched and remarkably well written with both emotion and overall clarity of fact. . . History Ahead . . . provides the 'rest of the story' and then some for those featured. These nineteen chapters are complete biographies of Texans of significance . . . and essays on important events."--Archie P. McDonald, former executive director, East Texas Historical Association, community liaison, Stephen F. Austin University
"I'm a native Texan, and I thought I knew most of the state's oddballs. This book introduced me to a whole new set of hermits, flimflam men, curanderos, bimetallists, ghost busters and aviatrixes. I guess I need to slow down and read the markers." --John Burnett, NPR Texas correspondent
"History Ahead: Stories Beyond the Texas Roadside Markers is an extremely enjoyable and informative book. Utley and Beeman divulge the fascinating back stories behind some of Texas' more obscure historic sites, and delve into the cultural and economic forces and the famous and not-so-famous figures that have shaped the state's history. Their entertaining and informed writing touches on subjects as diverse as architecture, aviation, the oil and cotton industries, the military, religion, music, theater and conversation. I'm ready for more! - Liz Carmack, author, Historic Hotels of Texas
" . . . part travel guide and part history book. Loaded with unusual places to explore, this new book puts a face and personality on Texas history. If grade-school history books were this interesting, then recess would become most students' second favorite subject."--Austin Chronicle
"With so many historical markers already, and others constantly being erected, there are unlimited possibilities for more interesting collections like History Ahead.”--San Angelo Standard-Times
"Breaking with the traditional roadside guide, History Ahead: Stories Beyond the Texas Roadside Markers brings together little-known sites and facts, as well as helpful maps to include the largest manmade oil tank, a WW II detention camp cemetery and the remains of Fort D.A. Russell. The stories of Charles Lindbergh, Will Rogers and the Big Bopper are a real treat."--True West
"Historical markers probably aren’t your idea of a riveting read, but authors Dan K. Utley and Cynthia J. Beeman manage to make them completely engrossing. . . gives an idiosyncratic look at the forgotten corners of Texas history. . . A goldmine for Texas history buffs."--The Austinist
"History doesn't have to be a boring succession of dates or trends to remember. The way to learn history is to appreciate it as a collection of interesting stories. History is a book like History Ahead: Stories Beyond the Texas Roadside Markers."--Austin American Statesman