One might expect a book written by a sitting United States senator to be self-serving and pretentious. That is not the case with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's new book, "American Heroines: The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country." (William Morrow).
The writers of history textbooks have only recently begun to include the often ignored and sometimes censored sacrifices and contributions of women to the founding and sustaining of this nation. Hutchison, a Texas Republican and now that state's senior senator, has put together an ideologically diverse and highly readable compilation. The book features women from Hutchison's native Texas to the national stage who have made significant contributions not only to their country, but to the progress of women in the pursuit of their endowed rights as half of the human family.
"No history can be written appropriately without acknowledging the part women have played in building the greatness of our country," she writes. Indeed.
Some of these women are familiar, such as Amelia Earhart, Condoleezza Rice, Geraldine Ferraro, Barbara Walters and Sally Ride. Others are not, mostly because few have written much about them. There is Mary Austin Holly, the niece of Stephen F. Austin, a hero of Texas independence. When Holly was widowed with young children, she might have chosen security in a home with friends. Instead, she moved to the Austin colony in Texas, where she earned a place in that state's history by working toward an ideal - freedom and independence - and eschewing minimal comforts.
Among modern women there is Oveta Culp Hobby. Hobby worked with some of the most famous men in government during World War II and contributed significantly on the home front to the Allied victory. When Dwight Eisenhower was elected president in 1952, he named Hobby the first Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.
The Hobby family owned KPRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Houston, where Hutchison (then Kay Bailey) applied for a job after graduating from the University of Texas Law School. It was there that I first met her in 1969, where I was a reporter for that station and she was soon to become one. She charmed Governor Preston Smith who gave her many exclusives to the consternation of some of us men, but to the delight of the news director, Ray Miller.