For John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner, there was one simple rule in politics: “You’ve got to bloody your knuckles.” It’s a maxim that applies in so many ways to the state of Texas, where the struggle for power has often unfolded through underhanded politicking, backroom dealings, and, quite literally, bloodshed. The contentious history of Texas politics has been shaped by dangerous and often violent events, and been formed not just in the halls of power but by marginalized voices omitted from the official narratives.
A Single Star and Bloody Knuckles traces the state’s conflicted and dramatic evolution over the past 150 years through its pivotal political players, including oft-neglected women and people of color. Beginning in 1870 with the birth of Texas’s modern political framework, Bill Minutaglio chronicles Texas political life against the backdrop of industry, the economy, and race relations, recasting the narrative of influential Texans. With journalistic verve and candor, Minutaglio delivers a contemporary history of the determined men and women who fought for their particular visions of Texas and helped define the state as a potent force in national affairs.
Bill Minutaglio is the author of several nonfiction books, including the first biography of George W. Bush, an account of the greatest industrial disaster in US history, and biographies of former attorney general Alberto Gonzales and writer Molly Ivins. He received a PEN Center Award for his coauthored book Dallas 1963, a chronicle of the events preceding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. His work has also been honored by the National Association of Black Journalists, and he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters. Minutaglio is a former clinical professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and reporter, columnist, and editor for the three largest newspapers in Texas. A former columnist for the Texas Observer, his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, among other publications.