With Roadside History of Texas, Leon C. Metz has managed to do the near-impossible: write a page turner history book. Born in West Virginia and residing in El Paso since 1952, Metz has written over a dozen novels on the history of highways, gunfighters, and military in Texas.
The book divides Texas into eight regions and tells the history of the state from the perspective of driving the highways. A map at the beginning of each section helps lay out the geography in the mind and prepare the reader for the journey ahead – both literary and on the road. Historical photographs fill the pages along with tidbits of interesting information about towns, wayside exhibits, and natural landmarks.
Throughout the book, Metz relays just enough history to make it interesting while not drowning the reader in facts and figures. He weaves together a narrative using deep research and understanding of Texas that flows as smoothly as a Hemingway or Twain novel. Rather than reading the book just for information, it becomes a page turner with a developing plot, interesting characters, and mystery around every corner.
Roadside History of Texas is a must-have companion book for any road trip across Texas. At the very least, the book will help inspire adventures to small towns, big cities, and natural wonders along the way. For history buffs like myself, the book is a compendium of information that will boost my writing for years to come.
The only potential downside to the book comes from the publication date. Published in 1994, the book’s information about highways is devoid of nearly thirty years of development. Still, the history is accurate and invaluable – you’ll just have to find another source for the new highways built across the state.
Verdict: This is a must-have book for any adventure across Texas, particularly if that adventure includes a road trip.