Billie Sol Estes: A Texas Legend

Billie Sol’s life and times have been full of excitement and intrigue. He has gone from being very poor to very rich and famous, to a man imprisoned in the most difficult prison in the United States. He had several offers to tell his story, however he was personally warned by Lyndon B. Johnson to keep his mouth shut if he wanted to live. He tells his story now.

Billie Sol Estes

Several years ago, someone who knew that my father had once worked in the fertilizer business for Billie Sol Estes, gave me this book written by his daughter, Pam Estes. Since the author is the daughter of Billie Sol Estes, I didn’t give it much chance of being an objective and unbiased work. Well, I recently dusted the book off and finally got around to reading it, and I owe Pam Estes an apology. I was truely impressed with her work.

The Estes family has long been known to be big financial supporters of Texas Democrats. Billie Sol Estes never lost that loyalty. I thought the author might hold that same loyalty, but found rather, that she was brutally honest. She never paints her father as an innocent man, but successfully portrays him as a victim of Democrat backstabbing. When it became apparent that Billie Sol Estes was going down, people who had benefited greatly from his contributions and who had enabled him to do the things he had done, such as Ralph Yarborough and Lyndon Johnson were not about to go down with him. The author even firmly suggests a theory which I have long held, that LBJ was the one man in America who had the motive, power and ability to successfully have JFK murdered without being caught. LBJ was no longer needed for the southern vote and would not have been on the 1964 ticket with JFK. He knew that and wasn’t about to lose his power.

Pam Estes is also honest about her father’s short comings. While it is obvious that her love for her father never waivered, she lets the reader know in subtle ways, that life with Billie Sol wasn’t always easy. For example, she talks about a man who had been making advances towards her mother and how those advances had gone unnoticed. She concludes, “After all, if you’re married to Billie Sol Estes, you don’t have time for any more problems.”

The story of Billie Sol Estes is not the story of a crooked Texas wheeler dealer. It is the story about an ambitious man who found himself on the wrong side of a game of political chess. His is the story of what kind of power and destruction is wielded by the federal government and how the government can destroy a family anytime, anywhere and for any reason. All in all, this is a very enjoyable read. I’m sorry I waited so long to read it.

{M.Rainey – New Braunfels, TX United States}