They’re Saying

About ‘The Prince of South Waco: American Dreams and Great Expectations’

“TONY CASTRO HAS WRITTEN a poignant coming-of-age book that provides startling and frequently disturbing insights into growing up Hispanic and talented in central Texas in the 1950s and 1960s. He lays bare the tortured and sometimes heartbreaking soul of his youth and life as a young adult. Those of us who grew up in Waco can readily identify with the descriptions of a small city being dragged into the 20th Century in terms of race and culture.

NEW_COVER-1 copy“I must disclose that I am mentioned briefly in the book. The wedding to my wife of 39 years is described in vivid and idealist terms. Tony was best man at that wedding. Some years later, I was best man at his. I was also witness to many of the events described in the book as Tony has been a close friend of mine for more than 40 years. Any bias in this review is strictly mine, and I alone am responsible. Yet, this is a book that transcends the stereotype of books about youth of any age. As well, it transcends descriptions of the racial issues that plagued the United States in a former age and, to some extent, continue to this day.

“The human condition is by nature filled with heartache and difficulties, some of our own making and some not. With a sense that borders on the Kafkaesque, Tony reveals his painful and stinging awareness that he is different in terms of skin color, religion, and culture. In his flowing prose, Tony frequently offers a background richly textured in Western literature with which he is intimately familiar. It is a painful self-examination of a life that, ultimately, is fueled by a passionate optimism to succeed and to be self-fulfilling. It is beautifully written and a fascinating emotional and intellectual exploration of times past, present and future. It is a love story without end.”
— Tony Pederson
Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism
Southern Methodist University
Former Executive Editor, The Houston Chronicle


“Readers who step into Tony’s Time Machine, The Prince of South Waco, are in for a thrilling, lyrical ride, a true tale of romantic woes and raucous rebellion that will break readers’ hearts. Castro’s coming-of-age story is a painfully poignant memoir of romance, racism and self-discovery fraught with recollections of lynchings, Jim Crow-ism, no-white-girl speeches, growing up Chicano and excelling as one of the best and brightest of emerging young journalists of his time. ‘How do you reclaim your destiny when it has been so connected with a love that has been lost?’ asks the author. And therein lies this soulful impasse.”

— Preston F. Kirk, formerly of United Press International, Houston


“Tony Castro’s honest and powerful memoir captures the essential American story of the struggle for cultural assimilation. The very best stories are written in blood, and in Castro’s finely woven personal narrative, the reader can almost feel his heart beating.”

— Bob Vickrey, Contributing columnist, The Waco Tribune-Herald


About ‘Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son’

“THIS IS A FRESH, INSIGHTFUL, honest look into the life of an iconic figure on the American athletic landscape by an author who obviously researched the subject deeply. While Mickey Mantle’s drinking excesses became well-documented public knowledge late in his life, Castro details Mantle’s flawed character with many never-told-before incidents that make this book an asorbing page-turner. The Mickey Mantle who comes out of this narrative remains a heroic jock, but Castro portrays a terribly self-destructive human being who managed to hit a baseball far better than he managed his own life.”
— Doug Krikorian, Long Beach Press Telegram

‘TONY CASTRO’S POWERFUL, touching song of praise and lament for Mickey Mantle defines the forces that made the Oklahoma miner’s son an American icon.”
— Dave Kindred, author of Glove Stories/columnist, The Sporting News

“A terrific insight into the life and tribulations of a true American sports icon. An extremely well-researched book, with stories that only someone who really knew Mickey would know.”
— Tom Catal, curator, Mickey Mantle Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y.

“AS CRISP AND STUNNING in its insights as a fastball off of Mantle’s amazing bat. A richly textured glimpse of America in a time when heroism still counted and when the real heroes were found on the ball diamond. A crystal-clear look at a man, a myth, and the heartbeat of a nation.”
— Ben Stein, author

“Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son is a compelling story of one of the most gifted and complex sport figures in history.  Tony Castro gives us a vivid portrait of an athlete with many personal demons yet whose glorious on-the-field career we will remember always.”
— Tony Pederson, The Houston Chronicle

NO AMERICAN ATHLETE has ever been revered by a higher percentage of America’s youth than was Mickey Mantle. We needed for somebody to write a book about how and why America made Mickey Mantle an unprecedented and enduring national sports icon and to what degree Mickey was and was not prepared for the ramifications. As one of those life-long fans of Mantle, I think I’ve read every book about him, in addition to absorbing forty years of magazine articles. Tony Castro’s research and writing produced the best sports biography I’ve ever read.

Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son is a beautiful composition of history and emotion and revelation. The depths that Castro explored took us to the troubled inside of Mickey the boy and Mantle the man. Castro clearly defined the public star who exposed his personal conflicts only toward the end of his famous life. Secondarily it it also teaches us about the interactions of the Yankees and explains why Mickey’s teammates and opponents were always so loyal and supportive of him. (Joe DiMaggio excepted.)

Actually, Castro’s whole approach to the subject was masterful. The reader benefits from more than just new insights into what made Mickey what he was and wasn’t; the reader learns about why Mickey became what he ultimately became and how he became so much a part of us. This book should be required reading for fathers and sons of all ages. It teaches us about ourselves and about the times we all shared with Mickey Mantle–from those days when he was what we all we wanted to be, to those days when he became what we all hoped he and we wouldn’t become.

In the end Castro explains to us the many reasons why we were fascinated with Mantle. The dark side of our flawed idol having been explained for the first time in detail, sets the stage for the bittersweet end where Castro describes the salvation that all of us desired for Mantle to attain. Castro paints the canvas with the events leading to Mantle’s death. The end of the ride allowed the public to bury The Mick in the same glow it always wanted for him as a real American hero, strong, but at the same time, understandably and forgivably fragile.
–Brian Gauthier, review, Barnes & Noble


Carlos Guerra on ‘Chicano Power’

Carlos Guerra, 1974
Carlos Guerra, 1974

“‘Chicano Power’ is a magnificent tour de force and masterpiece of contemporary American history — as close to a Chicano ‘Iliad’ as we will ever have. As a founder of MAYO (Mexican American Youth Organization) and La Raza Unida political movements, I personally knew Tony Castro during that period and spent days and sometimes weeks traveling with him — and often subjected to his relentless but charming inquisitiveness. It gained him unprecedented access for a journalist to all of us who were central to the Chicano civil rights developments of in the 1960s and 1970s, making him a unique eyewitness to much of what unfolded not only in Texas but throughout the Southwest. His reporting was always accurate, fair and incisive, even when some of us might have wished at times that he had not been so omnipresent. With ‘Chicano Power,’ he has established himself as the leading historian of a remarkable period of American Latino social, political and cultural change.”

Excerpt from Carlos Guerra’s introduction to the upcoming 40th anniversary re-publication of Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America. Guerra, a youth activist in the 1960s and 1970s, founded the Chicano movement periodical Caracol. He became a free-lance journalist and later a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. Guerra, a close friend of Tony Castro whom he credited for influencing him to get into mainstream journalism, died in 2010.