The Kings of Big Spring: God, Oil, and One Family’s Search for the American Dream

Bryan Mealer. Flatiron, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-05891-1
In this excellent family history, journalist Mealer (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) follows his Scotch-Irish forebears from the hills of northern Georgia to a distant frontier of rugged beauty, untapped resources, and devastating hardship. The saga plays out against the vast backdrop of West Texas from the 1890s through the author’s youth in the 1980s as one bonanza after another is erased by boll weevil, drought, addiction, or greed. Through all the dust storms and oil gushers, through bankruptcy and epidemics, generations of Mealers chase the American dream only to see it slip through their grasps, leaving them to find solace in Christian faith and one another. Mealer brings together his disparate materials with ease. The miniature cosmos of family life is counterpointed by profiles of national figures such as Bob Wills, the founder of Western Swing, and Raymond Tollett, a polymath ex–FBI agent who turned a bankrupt refinery into a regional powerhouse. Post-WWII prosperity made the hobo camps, child mortality, and crushing poverty of the dust bowl and Depression impossibly remote, yet Mealer’s narrative allows figures long frozen in black and white to walk again in living color. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2017
Release date: 02/06/2018
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4272-9998-7
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-250-05892-8
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-4782-1
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