Haley, James L. 1951–
Haley, James L. 1951–
(James Lewis Haley)
PERSONAL: Born December 14, 1951, in Tulsa, OK; son of Kenneth Houston (a businessman) and Georgia Haley. Education: University of Texas, Arlington, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1975; University of Texas, Austin, graduate study, beginning 1976. Politics: "Avenging liberal." Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Camping, nature and wildlife photography, tennis.
CAREER: Historian and educator. Big Thicket Association, Saratoga, TX, executive assistant to the president, 1973; executive director of Wildlands Preservation Society, beginning 1973. Tennis instructor at University of Texas, Arlington, and at country clubs. Member, Biblical Studies Center, University of Texas.
MEMBER: Alpha Chi, Phi Alpha Delta.
AWARDS, HONORS: Spur Award for Best Western Nonfiction in Biography Category, Western Writers of America, 2003, for Sam Houston.
The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1976, reprinted, State House Press (Austin, TX), 1998.
Apaches: A History and Culture Portrait, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1981, reprinted, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1997.
Texas: An Album of History, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1985, reprinted as Texas: From the Frontier to Spindletop, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1991.
The Kings of San Carlos, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1987.
The Lions of Tsavo (novel), Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.
Texas: From Spindletop through World War II, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1993.
Final Refuge: A Novel of Eco-terrorism, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1994.
Sam Houston, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2002.
Stephen F. Austin and the Founding of Texas, PowerKids Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas, Free Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to American Heritage. Editor-in-chief, Urban Law Review, 1977–.
SIDELIGHTS: The colorful history of Texas and its people is the forté of James L. Haley. His 2002 release of Sam Houston covers the life of the Lone Star statesman and military officer who liberated Texas from Mexican rule and later led the territory to U.S. statehood. The book suggests that "most other Houston biographies fail to provide a completely accurate picture of the man," according to Mike Miller in Library Journal. Miller wrote that Haley's volume, "while not the definitive biography, does provide a fuller picture of Houston, painting a lively picture of a sometimes deeply troubled man." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Haley "may have cut his narrative a bit too deeply in keeping the biography to a reader-friendly length of 250,000 words; the American war with Mexico gets particularly short treatment." Still, added the reviewer, "Sam Houston is a good read, solidly evoking the prickly personality of the first and greatest Texan."
Haley continued his historical focus on Texas with his next two books: Stephen F. Austin and the Founding of Texas and Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas. In the former, Haley recounts the short life of Austin, who helped win the Texas war for independence but also was an Indian Rights advocate and against Texas ceding from the Union prior to the Civil War. Sally Bates Goodroe, writing in the School Library Journal, referred to the biography as "clear and engaging."
Passionate Nation takes a comprehensive look back through the state's history over five centuries, from Spanish rule and Mexico's ownership to Texas's fight for independence and the role it played in the Civil War. The author discusses the state's politics and economics and some of its most influential people, such as President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The author also brings the reader up-to-date with a look at recent politicians such as the late Governor Ann Richards and former governor and U.S. President George W. Bush. Writing in Booklist, Gilbert Taylor noted that the "work bears both human-interest immediacy and collection-development significance." A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that the author "does an outstanding job of narrating the outsized and dramatic history of the Lone Star State." Robert Finn, commenting on the Book Reporter Web site, referred to Haley as "a lively writer," who "also has a gift for deft one-liner characterization that brings even minor players in his crowded historical saga to life for the reader."
Haley has also written fiction, including Final Refuge: A Novel of Eco-terrorism, the story of poachers preying on rhinoceroses in zoos (the animal's horn, prized for its aphrodisiac qualities, makes it more valuable than gold). Final Refuge follows zoo director Eric Jackson, who was described as "an unusually goofy hero" by a contributor to Publishers Weekly, as he investigates the crime. "What sets this novel apart from the typical whodunit," according to Booklist critic Thomas Gaughan, "is the author's research into the subjects of zoos, endangered species, and poaching." Haley's tale also has value as a fun read, added Gaughan, adding: "The ribald barnyard humor of the zoo veterinarians is laugh-out-loud funny and has a wonderful ring of authenticity."
"I am still sufficiently awed by the prospect of people paying money to read my thoughts as to have little to communicate," Haley once told CA, "and my bibliography is too short to give me much right to if I wanted. For now, let me venture that I am much concerned with the artistic responsibility of a writer to reach his readers on a heart-on-heart level. In the future I would like to see my creative writing deal with the classical literary masonry of good, solid craft. My professional writing in the conservation field will likely question the place of conservation in politics. Taking care of our planet has become a matter of pro-or-con labels that are gross oversimplifications. Conservation should be a matter of daily personal hygiene, but advocates on both sides of the fence insist on keeping boxed categories of heroes, villains, bugaboos, and crusades."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American History Illustrated, July, 1981, Yvonne Milspaw, review of Apaches: A History and Culture Portrait, p. 8; June, 1982, Yvonne Milspaw, review of Apaches, p. 4.
American West, March-April, 1981, review of Apaches, p. 66; January-February, 1986, L.D. Clark, review of Texas: An Album of History, p. 80.
Booklist, April 1, 1981, review of Apaches, p. 1075; August, 1994, Thomas Gaughan, review of Final Refuge: A Novel of Eco-terrorism, p. 2022; March 15, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas, p. 20.
Choice, June, 1981, review of Apaches, p. 1476.
Houston Chronicle, May 19, 2006, Clay Reynolds, review of Passionate Nation.
Journal of American History, March, 1982, review of Apaches, p. 908.
Journal of Southern History, November, 2003, Greg Cantrell, review of Sam Houston, p. 890.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006, review of Passionate Nation, p. 170.
Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, January, 1992, review of Texas: From the Frontier to Spindletop, p. 40.
Library Journal, December 15, 1980, review of Apaches, p. 2568; December, 1991, Melvin Grotberg, review of Texas: From the Frontier to Spindletop, p. 164; August, 1994, Charles Michaud, review of Final Refuge, p. 129; February 15, 2002, Mike Miller, review of Sam Houston, p. 154.
Locus, January, 1990, review of The Lions of Tsavo, p. 51.
New York Times Book Review, October 30, 1994, Newgate Callendar, review of Final Refuge, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, November 28, 1980, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Apaches, p. 41; May 3, 1993, review of Texas: From the Frontier to Spindletop, p. 291; September 19, 1994, review of Final Refuge, p. 52; February 4, 2002, review of Sam Houston, p. 63.
Reference and Research Book News, February, 1999, review of The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874, p. 37; February 4, 2002, review of Sam Houston, p. 63; February 6, 2006, review of Passionate Nation, p. 60.
Roundup, April, 1999, review of The Buffalo War, p. 26.
School Library Journal, May, 2003, Sally Bates Goodroe, review of Stephen F. Austin and the Founding of Texas, p. 170.
Southwest Review, summer, 1981, review of Apaches, p. R5.
Wall Street Journal, February 4, 1981, Richard Martin, review of Apaches, p. 22; December 2, 1981, review of Apaches, p. 28; November 18, 1994, Merle Rubin, review of Final Refuge, p. A16.
Western Historical Quarterly, January, 1982, review of Apaches, p. 73.
Book Reporter, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (October 9, 2006), Robert Finn, review of Passionate Nation.
James L. Haley Home Page, http://www.jameslhaley.com/ (October 9, 2006).