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A Close Look at Amarillo

New book chronicles the history and influence of the "Queen City of the Texas Panhandle."

TTU Press

Written by Gretchen Pressley

December Book Cover

“Amarillo, The Story of a Western Town” depicts the history of Amarillo in a way that rekindles the memories of the people who have lived there and is of interest to anyone interested in history. Written by Paul Carlson, history professor at Texas Tech, the first comprehensive history of Amarillo traces the town's history from its origins in the 1880s through the election of Debra McCartt, current mayor of Amarillo, in 2005.

Though written as a work of historical non-fiction, “Amarillo” reads much like a novel. Carlson tells the stories of the town’s first inhabitants and vividly describes the struggle for life in the deserted plains of West Texas.

The book details important political, economic and cultural developments in the city’s past and explains how events in Amarillo, one of the largest cities on the Great Plains, relate to similar events in the state and nation.

Issues and events examined in the book include the debate over where the town would be located, the Ku Klux Klan in Amarillo, how the city responded to World War II, the tornado in 1949 that destroyed eastern portions of the city, the closing of the Amarillo Air Force base in the 1960s and problems associated with the Pantex Ordinance plant in the 1980s.

Carlson has been studying the history of the Great Plains and the American West for most of his professional career. He started research for his history of Amarillo more than two years ago.

Each of Carlson’s previous 11 books describes historical events associated with the Great Plains and the American West. “The Plains Indians,” Carlson’s most accomplished book, was a History Book of the Month Club selection and was named recently as one of the “100 Most Outstanding Non-fiction Books on the American West Published in the 20th Century.”

For more information about “Amarillo, The Story of a Western Town,” visit the Texas Tech University Press Web site.