Texas Book Festival Itinerary—JFK/Presidential Edition


Interested in politics? This year’s festival is chock full of offerings for you.


Begin the day with Jonathan Alter and Dan Balz at 10:00 a.m. in the House Chamber. Alter, bestselling author of The Promise, outlines Obama’s path to reelection in 2012 in The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies. The book chronicles the monumental effort from the right to mark Obama in history as a one-term president, as well as the ingenious tactics that ultimately won the election. Balz’ Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America, offers both a well-researched account of the 2012 presidential election and a predictive analysis of the future of American politics. For politics buffs and Obama supporters/detractors alike, these two are sure to offer a thorough analysis and interesting discussion.

this_townNext up, head on over to the CSPAN-2/Book TV Tent for the 11:00 a.m. discussion with Mark Leibovich, author of This Town and chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. This Town examines the “media industrial complex” of the ruling class and offers accounts and analyses of Washington’s transformative effect on the character of politicians. This panel is sure to be insightful and informative, with a healthy dose of controversy.

Good news: you don’t have to move an inch for the next panel, which features Steven Davis and Bill Minutaglio and starts at 12:00 p.m. Davis, Curator at the Witliff Collections at Texas State University- San Marcos, and Minutaglio, Professor of Journalism at U.T., are set to discuss Dallas in 1963 on this 50th anniversary year of the tragic Kennedy assassination. Their book, aptly titled Dallas 1963, explores the Dallas political forces diametrically opposed to the Kennedy presidency at the time of his assassination, offering an interesting take on the reasons why many still blame the city for his death.

history_will_prove_us_rightMore good news: most of the political panels at the festival are at the CSPAN-2/Book TV tent, so you will rarely have to move too much! In the next panel, which starts at 1:00 p.m., Hugh Aynesworth, Allen Childs, M.D., and Howard Willens discuss, once again, the JFK assassination. Aynesworth, an investigative reporter who witnessed the assassination, will examine the events through his book, November 22, 1963: Witness to History. Childs, author of We Were There: Revelations from the Dallas Doctors Who Attended to JFK on November 22, 1963, will offer a medical perspective on the assassination. Finally, Willens, who worked on the case surrounding the assassination, will discuss his book, History Will Prove Us Right.

You must be hungry after all this political discussion! Grab some food and return to the CSPAN-2/Book TV tent by 2:30 p.m. for the next panel, “Lawrence in Arabia.” Featuring author Scott Anderson, this panel will offer an in-depth historical account and analysis of the four men who helped shape what we know today as the Middle East. His book, Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month for August, 2013, and is based on years of extensive primary research (i.e., this guy knows his Middle Eastern political history).

Sit tight for a panel from A. Scott Berg, author of Wilson, at 3:45 p.m. The book is a detailed biography of Woodrow Wilson’s life, and Berg is set to speak about Wilson’s journey to the White House and his fight to create the League of Nations.


Start the day at the House Chamber at 11:00 a.m. with Taya Kyle and David Finkel. Kyle, widow of the late Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL Team 3 Chief, sniper, and author of the New York Times bestseller, American Gun, will discuss the impacts and aftermath of war. Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service, will similarly discuss the impacts of war on the soldiers, their loved ones, and the psychologists and counselors who try and, largely, fail to restore the soldiers’ psyches after returning from war.

Grab a quick bite to eat before the next event, which starts at noon.

collision_2012Next, head over to the CSPAN-2/Book TV tent for a panel on Obama featuring Richard Wolffe and Dan Balz, starting at 12:00 p.m. Wolffe, a political correspondent for MSNBC who covered the entirety of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, examines the marketing genius behind both of Obama’s victories in his book, The Message: The Reselling of President Obama. Balz, Washington Post correspondent and author of Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America, writes about the 2012 presidential election and its implications for the future of American politics.

The next political panel, which starts at 3:15 p.m. in the CSPAN-2/Book TV tent, is sure to excite environmentalists and political buffs alike. Asher Price and Kate Galbraith will discuss their landmark book, The Great Texas Wind Rush: How George Bush, Ann Richards, and a Bunch of Tinkerers Helped the Oil and Gas State Win the Race to Wind Power.

midnight_in_mexicoFinally, stay in your seat for the “Border Politics” panel, which starts at 4:15 p.m. and features Alfredo Corchado and Ricardo Ainslie. Corchado’s Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness is a true account of Corchado’s life on the line at the hands of the Mexican cartel and his dedication to report the truth. Ainslie, a U.T. Professor and fellow in the Charles H. Spence Centennial Professorship in Education in the department of Educational Psychology, writes about the decline of Juarez in The Fight to Save Juarez: Life in the Heart of Mexico’s Drug War. This is set to spark a heated and interesting discussion to finish off your Festival and quench your political thirst!