Texas Book Festival—Presidential Edition


[Also see the Observer‘s TBF End of the World Itinerary, Debut Author Itinerary, Foodie Itinerary, Borderlands Itinerary, Enviro Itinerary, and Whodunit Itinerary.]

Texas is no stranger to presidential politics. We sent LBJ and two Bushes to the White House, with decidely mixed results, and we rightly remain traumatized about the state’s role in taking JFK out. And then there’s Rick Perry’s apparently undiminished (and is “quixotic” too noble a word?) ambition for presidential power, and the tantalizing prospect that would-be usurper Ted Cruz might out-crazy Perry on his far-right flank.

So it’s little surprise that this weekend’s Texas Book Festival — which after all was founded by pre-first lady Laura Bush — will feature a raft of books and authors addressing themselves to the highest office in the land.


JonathanAlterThePromisecoverartBegin your political journey with Jonathan Alter and Dan Balz at 10 a.m. in the House Chamber. Alter, bestselling author of The Promise, chronicle’s Barack Obama’s path to reelection in his new The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies. Balz’s Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America offers both a well-researched account of the election and a predictive analysis of the future of American politics.

thistownNext head on over to the CSPAN-2/Book TV Tent for an 11 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 politicians who get sucked in. Moderated by journalist and G.W. Bush biographer Robert Draper.

DALLAS1963(HC)Good news: You don’t have to move an inch to catch the next panel, which begins at noon and features Steven L. Davis and our own Bill Minutaglio. Davis, curator at the Witliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos, and Minutaglio, journalism professor at UT-Austin, will discuss the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Their book, Dallas 1963, explores the Big D political forces aligned in opposition to the Kennedy presidency leading up to the assassination, and offers an interesting take on the reasons many Americans still blame the city for JFK’s death.

witnessDon’t give up that seat yet! The 1 p.m. CSPAN-2/Book TV Tent panel features another JFK discussion, this one between Hugh Aynesworth, Allen Childs and Howard Willens. Aynesworth, an investigative reporter who witnessed the assassination, examines the events in 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 Warren Commission Report, will discuss his book, History Will Prove Us Right.

Now go get something to eat.

WILSONReturn to the CSPAN-2/Book TV Tent for a 3:45 p.m. panel featuring A. Scott Berg, author of Wilson, a detailed biography of Woodrow Wilson.  Berg will talk about Wilson’s journey to the White House and his fight to create the League of Nations.


At noon, head back over to the CSPAN-2/Book TV tent for a panel on President Obama featuring Richard Wolffe and Dan Balz. Wolffe, a political correspondent for MSNBC who covered the entirety of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, examines the marketing genius behind both  Obama victories in The Message: The Reselling of President Obama. Balz will again discuss Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America.