The Bryan Museum Book Club
The Bryan Museum Book Club is a monthly group who studies books about Texas and the American West. Our primary focus is non-fiction works, with the occasional fictional work included. The club meets on the second Thursday of every month in the Library at The Bryan Museum.
March 9 at 3:00 pm
Book Selection: Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition
by Cabeza de Vaca
This riveting true story is the first major narrative detailing the exploration of North America by Spanish conquistadors (1528-1536). The author, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, was a fortune-seeking Spanish nobleman and the treasurer of an expedition sent to claim for Spain a vast area of today’s southern United States. In simple, straightforward prose, Cabeza de Vaca chronicles the nine-year odyssey endured by the men after a shipwreck forced them to make a westward journey on foot from present-day Florida through Louisiana and Texas into California. In thirty-eight brief chapters, Cabeza de Vaca describes the scores of natural and human obstacles they encountered as they made their way across an unknown land. Cabeza de Vaca’s gripping account offers a trove of ethnographic information, including descriptions and interpretations of native cultures, making it a powerful precursor to modern anthropology.
April 13 at 3:00 pm
Book Selection: Stephen F. Austin – Empresario of Texas
by Gregg Cantrell
Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” has long been enshrined in the public imagination as an authentic American hero, but one who was colorless and rather remote. This book, the first major biography in more than seventy years, brings Austin’s private life, motives, personality, and character into sharp focus, revealing a driven man who successfully mixed effort and cunning, idealism and pragmatism to build an illustrious career. Gregg Cantrell traces Austin’s early life from his privileged boyhood as the son of the Missouri mining baron Moses Austin to his family’s humiliating financial downfall after the War of 1812. He tells how in 1821 Stephen Austin inherited his father’s daring plan to colonize Spanish Texas. Over the next fifteen years Austin carried out this plan with dazzling success, becoming a consummate manager, exhorter, politician, and diplomat, and playing a central role in the events that led to the Texas Revolution and the establishment of the Lone Star Republic. Within a generation, as a result largely of forces that he helped set in motion, the United States completed its drive for mastery over the North American continent.