INTERVIEW: Stephen Harrigan’s ‘Big Wonderful Thing’

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) – Telling the story of Texas is a colossal task. Author Stephen Harrigan took on the challenge, but it took some convincing.

“I was asked to do it by UT Press, and I immediately said no,” Harrigan said during an interview on the State of Texas politics program. But after some thinking, he changed his mind.

“All my life, I’ve been interested in history,” Harrigan said. “Finally, I just couldn’t stop myself. It was just too tempting. It was a big project, but I’m glad I did it.”

That big project took six years of research and writing. The result is a nearly 900-page book called ‘Big Wonderful Thing.’ One reviewer called Harrigan’s approach a “woke history of Texas.”

“I don’t know that I’m any more ‘woke’ than anyone else. I mean, come on, look at me,” Harrigan said, laughing. But he acknowledged that he made an effort to make the book more inclusive.

“It’s a broader story,” Harrigan said. “A story about women as much as it is about men. African-Americans and Native Americans, but you know, Latinos, Hispanics, it’s a giant, broad story.”

Harrigan will appear at the Texas Tribune Festival on September 28. He will appear on a panel with fellow history writers H.W. Brands and S.C. Gwynne. The panel is part of the Open Congress portion of the festival, which is free to the public.

“I just hope people will enjoy the conversation about writing history,” Harrigan said about the event. “What the pitfalls are, and what the joys and sorrows of it are.”

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