John Willingham is the author of historical novels set in texas and essays on major texas literary figures. He has also contributed op-eds to the History news network, and edited four books on public university honors colleges, cited in the new york times.
An enthusiastic hunter as a young, seventh generation texan who grew up around firearms, John is now a strong supporter of common-sense gun reforms in the u.S., especially in the wake of the horrible murders in Uvalde, Texas.
In April 2023, the Southwestern historical quarterly will publish his comprehensive essay "Should we 'Forget the Alamo'?: Myths, slavery, and the texas Revolution." The essay reexamines major arguments about the role of slavery in causing the revolution and concludes that the legacy of the alamo in Texas today is an ethic that often collides with the complex issues of modernity.
He was the author of the lead essay in the 100th anniversary issue of southwest review (cover to the left). about the works of John Graves and Larry McMurty. In Goodbye to a River John Graves reminds us that Nature is the fundament of our being, incorporating the process of change; it is that in Nature that we are from. IF WE SAY GOODBYE TO THE RIVER, WE ARE SAYING GOODBYE TO OURSELVES. GRAVES RETRIEVED WHAT HE FELT WAS THE FLOWING SUBSTANCE OF NATURE, WHICH HE BELIEVED THE BECOMING “NEW THING” SHOULD INCLUDE. As Graves was the conservator, McMurtry was the modern, restless and searching, hurtling forward with the stream “lapsing unsubstantial,” feeling the loss acutely and skeptical of translations. John's upcoming novel, the last woman, was inspired by the life of Frenchy McCormick, a woman who overcame the travails of frontier america. She is known as "The last of the Golden Girls of the old West," but the phrase does not do her justice. As with all novels, the story is essentially fiction, but it follows the basic timeline and travels of the real Frenchy's life. Readers will find historically accurate descriptions of 19th century Baton Rouge, St. Louis, Dodge City, and the wild cowtown of Tascosa, Texas. In the novel, the heroine's name is Frenchy McGinnis.
John is currently writing a new novel about two rebel soldiers and a mixed-race woman whose paths cross during the Civil War but take dramatic turns when they all meet again four years later amid the chaos of post-war Texas. The woman, Lucy, was inspired by the nineteenth century radical Lucy Parsons.
he independently published the edge of freedom, A fact-based novel of the texas revolution, in time to be the featured author for the annual lecture and reenactment at the presidio la Bahia in Goliad in 2011, on the 175th anniversary of the texas revolution. The book is told from the points of view of the texian commander James fannin, the mexican general Jose de urrea, and two business partners who fought on opposite sides in the Goliad campaign, Carlos de la garza and John White Bower.
john HAS A BA WITH HONORS AND AN MA IN AMERICAN HISTORY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN. FOR TWENTY YEARS HE WAS AN ELECTIONs ADMINISTRATOR IN TEXAS AND SERVED AS AN OBSERVER AND FACILITATOR IN BOSNIA FOR THE 1998 GENERAL ELECTIONS. IN 2002, HE WAS A MEMBER OF A NATIONAL TASK FORCE ON ELECTION REFORM in 2002. AFTER TEN YEARS OF RETIREMENT IN PORTLAND, OREGON, HE NOW LIVES AND WRITES IN GEORGETOWN, TEXAS, NEAR AUSTIN.
"TheEdge of Freedom succeeds as a 'fact-based novel' in its compelling blend of historical sequence and imagination: what likely occurred, and why? ....The Edge of Freedom remains closely tethered to actual events. James Michener once argued that meaningful literature inquires into real motives and behavior of humanity. The Edge of Freedom is an inventive glimpse into the choices and dilemmas that plague people caught up in political turbulence....
"Read alongside one of the contemporary general histories of the Texas republic or the Texas revolution, The Edge of Freedom provides an enriching glimpse into the tragedy whose ghosts were evoked thirty-six days later on the San Jacinto prairies."-- bob Cavendish
An updated kindle edition is now available. Link to Book page is below.