T. R. Fehrenbach

Since 1961, T.R. Fehrenbach has published 18 nonfiction books, mainly on historical subjects, printed in ten languages.

T. R. Fehrenbach was born January 12, 1925 in the Sam Robertson House, San Benito, Texas, to a pioneer South Texas family. His grandfather came to the Valley during WW I and both he and his son were in the land business.

"San Benito was created by the land business." Fehrenbach, 1999

Sam Robertson House where T.R. Fehrenbach was born


The Fehrenbach family rented a home in San Benito and he and his family knew Sam Robertson. When asked why the family hadn't bought the Sam Robertson house, Mr. Fehrenbach replied that his mother didn't like the kitchen setup--so far from the dining room with an interior patio in between--also, it would have required a large staff for so big a house.

"Sam Robertson was instrumental in the development of the Valley" Fehrenbach, 1999

At the age of 5, the family and his grandfather moved to Brownsville where they built a house just outside the city. It was there that he attended public schools. Later, after a move to California, he graduated from Hollywood, California High School.

"In the early 1900's, Mercedes was the town on the grow in the upper Valley, but when the railroad bipassed the town, it killed the town commercially." Fehrenbach , 1999

Theodore Reed Fehrenbach graduated BA (magna cum laude) from Princeton University in 1947 and returned to Texas to spend some time as a cotton farmer where his family owned property in the Rio Grande Valley and in the insurance business before starting a full-time career as a writer.

Mr. Fehrenbach lives in San Antonio with his wife, Lillian, who is also an author.

Comment for the students of Berta Cabaza Middle School, March, 1999:

"Remember, the work is always more important than the man or woman, which we too often forget." Fehrenbach, 1999

"My family were settlers and landowners, and I was raised in an essentially rural background, in and out of town but never quite of it, a feeling I still have of cities today." He decided at an early age that he wanted to write and "then, in my fifteenth summer, I discovered Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in my grandfather's library and became forever hooked on History."

The following excerpts were taken from newspaper clippings.

"As a young man," he wrote, "I was strongly attracted to the writings (and careers) of men such as Thucydides, Xenophon, and Tacitus. I also felt the urge to try to record my own times and the events and battles I experienced, to devote some time to public affairs and to be a writer, all the while retaining my basic existence as a landowner."


Military Service

Serving in WW II and Korea, Fehrenbach saw combat as platoon leader, company commander, and battalion staff officer with the 2nd Inf. Div., retiring as lieutenant colonel.


Best-Known Books

Best known for his writings, since 1961 he has published 18 nonfiction books, mainly on historical subjects, printed in ten languages. These include This Kind of War (1963,1995), considered the classic military history of the Korean War and used by US ground forces for officer instruction (required reading for all forces stationed in Korea); Lone Star (1968, new ed. 1999) the most widely read history of Texas and basis for the PBS 1986 miniseries; Fire and Blood (1973, 1996), a history of Mexico; Comanches, The Destruction of a People (1974,1995); and Texas: A Salute from Above (1985), a photographic essay of the state. A majority of his books have been either club selections or used at colleges and universities, an unusual combination. Fehrenbach's Greatness to Spare (1968), about the Signers, was released in audio in May, 1998.

Other books by T.R. Fehrenbach include his first book, The Battle of Anzio(1962), U.S. Marines in Action(1962), The Crisis in Cuba(1963), The San Antonio Story, Seven Keys to Texas(1983), The Swiss Banks, Gnomes of Zurich(1966), FDR's Undeclared War(1967), This Kind of Peace(1966), This Kind of War(1963).

Literary Contributions

He has contributed fiction and articles to a wide range of periodicals, including Analog, American Legion, Argosy, Atlantic Monthly, Bankers, Elks, Kiwanis, New Republic, Texas Monthly, This Week, etc. Fehrenbach has written for the London Sunday Times, Paris L'Express, Zurich Woche, and many foreign magazines and papers. He is a Sunday editorial columnist for the San Antonio Express-News since 1981, voted first in the last reader survey.

References include Marquis: WW in America, WW in Finance & Industry, WW in Entertainment, and numerous writers' directories.


Mr. Fehrenbach served on the Texas 2000 Commission (planning), has chaired the Texas Historical Commission where he has been a member since 1983, and Texas Antiquities Protection Committee and was reappointed to the Historical Commission by Gov. Bush in 1995. He has been honored three times by the Texas Legislature for his historical work and by the Texas Historical Commission, which in 1986 established the "T.R. Fehrenbach Publications Award."* He is a Fellow of the TX State Historical Assn., member of the Philosophical Society of Texas; Knight of San Jacinto, the highest order of the SRT; and member of the Author's Guild and Science Fiction Writers of America.

*Charles Robinson III, author of "The Story of San Benito" which is used for a related BCMS student project titled "Prehistoric San Benito," is a recipient of the Fehrenbach Award, and a native of San Benito. Charles & his wife reside in San Benito.



When this project was begun in the Spring of 1999, I was told by San Benito Historical Society President and former member of the Texas Historical Commission, Mrs. Clara Zepeda, that Mr. T. R. Fehrenbach had been born in San Benito. After confirming this fact on the Texas Historical Commission's internet site, I gathered all the information about Mr. Fehrenbach I could locate at a library on the UT campus in Austin.

A check with directory assistance yielded Mr. Fehrenbach's phone number, and a call was placed from school with a message left. Mr. Fehrenbach returned the call the following day. He was very helpful, offering many observations about his pioneer family in South Texas and his opinions about San Benito. He sent the requested photo and additional comments and information regarding his books. It was an honor to speak to him. It was a career highlight. Sandra Tumberlinson