The State Of Texas (American Culture)

An incisive, contrary and witty gaze on the Lone Star State. With a Texan in the White House, espousing Texan values, Christopher Hitchens’ investigation is a chance to see what Texas stands for, what this tells us about America today and what this means for the rest of the world. Hitchens’ odyssey takes him to meet oil legend Boon Pickens, singing legend Kinky Friedman and writers Larry McMurtry and John Graves. It also finds him patrolling the Mexican border with the Border Police boat patrol, on a shooting range with some redneck vigilantes, in a contretemps with a trainer at a football match and kitting himself up as a cowboy. All this in search of the heart, mind and spirit of Texas. He finds a state that is effectively a nation. A place where to be called a cowboy – as George Dubya happily is – is no insult. Where the Texan attitude is defiant – not caring about public opinion or power and believing it is better to fight than to run. A place that believes in little government, low taxes and the right to own a gun.

But a place also of mythology – where the Alamo represents the spirit of Texas, even though it was a defeat – a fact of which most Texans are ignorant. A place that espouses the image of the buccaneering businessman, battling against the elements, but in reality is an economy that has the government ranged on its side and looks like capitalism everywhere. For Hitchens, Texas is uniquely battling against the forces of globalisation to maintain its identity. Are we likely to live in a Texan world? He thinks not – Texas has enough on its plate, staying Texan.

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