the official website of james haley


My first two books, THE BUFFALO WAR and APACHES, garnered mostly favorable notices, but did not, at first, find much of an audience. Partly this was because, at Doubleday, the first book came out in the same department and same catalog as JAWS, and the second one came out in the same department and same catalog as ROOTS. Ever since, I tell people I don’t go skiing in winter. I’ve already been in two avalanches.

The occasion of Texas’ 150th anniversary of independence gave me the opportunity to do something more commercial—an oversized volume featuring 250 old daguerreotypes and photographs, text composed largely of original first-person accounts, and a chance to insist on a publicity budget.

The result was an all-in-Texas 45-city book tour—on a shoestring, mostly driven in my 1980 Datsun 200SX—but no matter, the result dazzled the publicity department at Doubleday, with a sale of about 12,000 books on a promotional budget of $3,000. I tasted my first commercial success and I began to be known as a competent speaker and lecturer.

And one lesson I learned by talking to people in 45 cities, listening to their family stories and their memories of local events, was, the real history has not been written yet. There is still more history in people’s attics and closets than has ever made it into the museums and archives and books. Harry Truman was right: the only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.


Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: "It really is a rich history."

Dallas Morning News: "Haley has avoided all the traps of historians—dullness prime among them—to give a history that lives, mostly because it chronicles the odd moment, the little-known fact, the twist that sheds new light."

Daily Texan: "A labor of love … Texas history has never seemed quite so alive."

Austin American-Statesman: "In print and through its photographs, it shows Texas accurately, without any attempt at romanticism or glamorization."

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