Book on J. Frank Dobie ‘essential’ read
Special to The News
J. Frank Dobie was more than a writer. He and his work formed what and how we feel about Texas. He wrote about the Lone Star state, its people and land. The life of this proud and free-thinking Texan is superbly told in “The Essential J. Frank Dobie,” edited by Steven L. Davis and published by Texas A&M University Press. Dobie was the first Texas-based writer to achieve national attention; his folk-based stories captured the imagination of the nation.
Dobie was one of those personalities who can be loved and hated at the same time, often by the same person. In the 1930s he resisted the economic programs of President Roosevelt during the Great Depression, declaring that the president would “turn proud, individualistic people into a nation of sap-suckers.” Because he valued freedom more than any other quality, many of his speeches and writings during the “UnAmerican era” were considered to be communist. The FBI investigated him, but found no connection to the Communist Party. Dobie ran head-long into problems with the conservative University of Texas administration because of staff firings, academic attitudes, limitations of academic freedoms and equal opportunities. One of his primary concerns was the university’s refusal to enroll Blacks while offering German prisoners of war an opportunity to take courses. While Dobie considered UT too conservative, the state political powers thought it was too liberal.
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