With an estimated 250-plus people moving to the Bayou City every day, it’s safe to say there are plenty of transplants who have yet to delve into Houston’s rich, multi-faceted past. And with ties to industry, music, and sports, how can you possibly choose where to start?
Since you currently can’t go out and see all this greatness for yourself, here are five books highlighting just a few parts of this city’s intriguing history. Whether you’re a Houstonian, born and raised, or a Bayou City newbie, you’ll walk away with a new tidbit to share at your next party—when we’re allowed have parties again.
The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes
Ask a Houstonian what they do for a living, and more often than not you’ll be told, “I’m in oil and gas.” That’s because Houston, the self-proclaimed Energy Capitol of the World, has been involved in oil since the early 20th century. Bryan Burrough’s New York Times Bestseller chronicles this industry and its deep-seated history in the Lone Star State through the lives of the Texas oil tycoons known as the Big Four: Houston’s Roy Cullen, Fort Worth’s Sid Richardson, and Dallas’ Clint Murchison, and H. L. Hunt.
Houston Rap Tapes: An Oral History of Bayou City Hip-Hop
When many people think of music and Houston, they think hip-hop. And for good reason, after all, we’re the scene that developed the chopped and screwed sound and produced artists like Geto Boys, Travis Scott, Megan Thee Stallion, and of course, the legendary Beyoncé. Writer Lance Scott Walker spent a decade documenting H-Town’s hip-hop scene, interviewing the rappers, DJs, producers, and label owners who made it into the music mecca it is today. Make sure you get the second edition of Houston Rap Tapes, which includes new interviews with artists including Scarface, Slim Thug, Lil’ Keke, and Sire Jukebox.
Murder and Mayhem in Houston: Historic Bayou City Crime
What do Clyde Barrow, the Heights, and potassium cyanide-laced Pixy Sticks have in common? They all make appearances in Murder and Mayhem in Houston: Historic Bayou City Crime covers some of Space City’s bloodier history, highlighting cases “that have slipped into the recess of this city’s gargantuan memory hole.”
Houston Astros: Deep In The Heart
You don’t have to live in Houston too long to see how much we love our Astros. We have their logo emblazoned on T-shirts, bumper stickers, entire walls of buildings, and oh so many tattoos. See for yourself why they hold such a special place in our hearts with longtime announcer Bill Brown and local historian Mike Acosta’s Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart, which traces the ‘Stros roots from baseball’s early days through its move to Minute Maid Stadium and close call in 2005. Written in 2013, Deep in the Heart doesn’t cover the Astros uplifting World Series win just weeks after Hurricane Harvey (check out Hurricane Season by the Chronicle’s Joe Holley if you want that story) or … err recent news, but this hard-to-find gem is full of interesting facts and behind-the-scenes anecdotes that will delight old fans and make believers out of new ones.
Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond
You knew there was going to be a NASA book on here. And there’s many out there. So, for today, we’re recommending JSC Flight Director Gene Kranz’s memoir in which he shares stories from the early days of the Mercury program through the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions.