J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind is the first biography of Dobie in 30 years and offers a fresh look at the famed Texas folklorist and intellectual freedom-fighter.

THE FIRST TEXAS-BASED WRITER to gain national attention, J. Frank Dobie captured the Southwest’s folk heritage in best-selling books such as Tales of Old-Time Texas, Coronado’s Children, and The Longhorns. Dobie brought scholarship out of the ivory tower and down to earth, where it could be shared among the people. He rebelled against convention and refused to earn a doctoral degree, famously observing, “The average PhD thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another.”

In this lively biography, Steven L. Davis takes a fresh look at a J. Frank Dobie whose "liberated mind" set him on an intellectual journey that culminated in Dobie becoming a political liberal who fought for labor, free speech, and civil rights. Tracing the full arc of Dobie's life (1888-1964), Davis shows how Dobie's insistence on "free-range thinking" led him to such radical actions as calling for the complete integration of the University of Texas during the 1940s, as well as taking on governors, senators, and the FBI (which secretly investigated him) as Texas's leading dissenter during the McCarthy era.





A Liberated Mind


At last, after a long wait, we have a crisp, reliable, and thorough biography of J. Frank Dobie... Steve Davis gives us a much richer understanding of Dobie than we have had previously.

— Larry McMurtry


If you love Texas, you should read this book." —Southwestern Historical Quarterly

A lively re-creation of the man and his times...[Dobie] was a Texan who focused his liberated mind on the mightiest issues of his time. — Dallas Morning News

Illuminating...Davis' biography outfits the myth in flesh and blood. —Houston Chronicle

Finalist, Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Non-Fiction Book.

Finalist, Philosophical Society of Texas Award for Best Book.

"Davis's meticulously researched book puts a whole new spin on the J.Frank Dobie legend and never fails to entertain. The book is one every Texan should read and then go back and read Dobie's books again." —Oak Hill Gazette

"After reading Davis’s book, I understand that our debt to Dobie isn’t so much about literature as it is about intellectual freedom: By fighting against the forces of conformity and narrow-mindedness, even when they came from within himself, Dobie blazed a trail for the many Texas thinkers and writers who came after him, whether they care to tip their hats or not." —Gary Cartwright, Texas Monthly