State Bar of Texas Blog

Throwing the book at them: Harper Estes recommends his favorite books

We asked State Bar President (and resident bibliophile) Harper Estes to name some of his favorite books. His selections, as of the time of writing:

Novel: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972 and should be read by anyone who loves either the American West or great writing.

Biography: Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie. This book won a Pulitzer in 1981. It is very readable and covers a lot of history, both of Peter the Great but also that era of Russian and European history. Perhaps the best recommendation I can give – you won’t mind that it’s a very long book.

General History: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954–1963 by Taylor Branch. This book won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for history and is the first in a three-volume history of the Civil Rights movement. It is thought provoking and poignant. It is one of my favorite books and would have to be to have me list it before Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson and the recent masterpiece Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Historical Fiction: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. My hands-down favorite work of historical fiction, this book won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The book is about the Battle of Gettysburg and sparked my interest in Civil War history. Shaara’s son, Jeff, has made a career of writing prequels and sequels; although some are good, they are no match for his dad’s great novel.

Books About Lawyers: Is there really any choice? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and became an instant classic. Richard “Racehorse” Haynes says every lawyer should make a habit of reading this book once a year. He is right.

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