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The sheer volume of remarkable Texan exploits creates a dizzying tally for the proudest of its citizens. So it happens that inexplicable marvels slip past an entire state of storytellers and world-famous legends live as anonymous neighbors. Ever hear the story about the escaped ape in the Big Thicket? Or the "Interplanetary Capital of the Universe" that sat on the Gulf Coast? Does the cowboy hat that warmed U.S.-China relations ring a bell? From the Staked Plain Quakers to the Kaiser Burnout, E.R. Bills delves into some of the most fascinating chapters of overlooked Texas lore.
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E.R. Bills is a freelance writer and journalist who received a degree in journalism from Texas State University. Born in Fort Worth and raised in Aledo, he is the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (The History Press, 2013), The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas (The History Press, 2014) and Black Holocaust: The Paris Horror and a Legacy of Texas Terror (Eakin Press, 2015). His work has appeared in Fort Worth Weekly, Fort Worth Magazine, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Austin American-Statesman and numerous other publications. He also recently co-edited Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers (Eakin Press, 2016).Review:
"Reading Texas Far and Wide is a delight. E.R. Bills tells the stories of ordinary Texans as they encounter successes, tragedies, and mysteries. Bills succeeds in making these stories feel both local and historically significant, sometimes by connecting these histories to larger narratives and always by treating each subject with wonder and respect."--Jaime Haider, Texas Books in Review, Volume XXXVIII, Number 1, Spring 2018
"I have to be honest, my intent was to read a few of the short chapters to get a feel for the book, then write this book review. But I was quickly drawn in, and soon had read each story. From the opening chapter about the 1936 escaped gorilla roaming the woods near Jewett to the closing tale of how a ten-gallon hat given to Deng Xiaoping at the Simonton Rodeo helped thaw U.S.-China relations in 1979, this book is filled with glimpses of fascinating people and events throughout Texas."--Leah Cooper, The Jefferson Jimplecute, July 1, 2018.
In an era when every book that is published seems to touch the political spectrum that envelopes our nation today, Bills' Texas Far &Wide is a refreshing read. It is a book that can be read anywhere, anytime,simply for the pure joy of reading. Oh, and if you're not careful, you may learn a thing or two about history and this great state of ours--Texas.
--Dr. Manuel Flores, Corpus Christi Caller Times, September 15, 2018
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