Book Review – Oveta Culp Hobby by Debra L. Winegarten

Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist
Debra L. Winegarten
Series: Louann Atkins Temple Women & Culture Series (Book 34)
Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: University of Texas Press (April 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0292722680
ISBN-13: 978-0292722682
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches

This is a fascinating biography of an exceptional woman who was the epitome of what a strong, confident, capable woman can accomplish when challenged.

Oveta Culp Hobby was born in 1905 and died in 1995. She was raised in Killeen, Texas, now home to Fort Hood, and she had a distinguished career in the military. During World War II, she was put in charge of creating and establishing a women’s army, eventually becoming the Director of the Women’s Army Corps and earning the rank of colonel in the process.

Later, she was appointed as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Eisenhower administration, becoming only the second woman in history to hold such a position. Oveta split her time and her energies between Washington and Houston, where she worked with her husband, former Texas governor William P. Hobby, running their businesses that included the Houston Post newspaper and radio and TV stations.

Considering all her achievements, I found it surprising that this is the first biography to be written about her. It is written for middle school readers, but I found it fascinating and I’m sure a lot of adults would enjoy meeting this exceptional woman. As a woman in nontraditional roles, she faced a lot of challenges, but overcame them to achieve great success. What an inspiration that can be to young women today who might be seeing the limitations that are still prevalent in too many places. In reading the book and getting to know Oveta, I got the sense that she did not consider the limitations. She just marched into the job and did it. What a wonderful, forward-thinking approach to life.

The book is well written, and the historical facts are thoroughly researched. As a historical resource, the book would make a great addition to any school or public library.

Debra L. Winegarten is a writer who lives in Austin, Texas. Like many writers, she does have a day job, working for the Department of Astronomy at UT Austin, where she is the First Undersecretary of the American Astronomical Society. By night, she writes. Debra will be my guest this coming Wednesday, so I do hope you will come back to meet her.

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