Update: Broke, Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War (co-written with Broadus A. Spivey) is in stores as of June 15, 2014, or available online from sources such as Amazon or order directly from Texas Tech Press. Read more information here. Link to the Statesman review here or read the text below. (Following the review, see comments on the book)
For the Sept. 25th review in the Austin Chronicle, click here.
Broadus and Jesse will be featured authors at the 2014 Texas Book Festival. Keep an eye on that site, because the full schedule (where authors will be speaking, reading, on panels, book signing) will be posted on Oct 1. Jesse & the Big 3 Trio will also be playing in the TBF Music Tent Sat. Oct. 25, 3-4PM.
‘Broke’ chronicles epic legal battle by Lubbock’s Maxey
August 2, 2014
By Patrick Beach, Austin American-Statesman
Aug. 02– The great challenge of writing a book about litigation — particularly sustained litigation, as if there’s any other kind — is to craft a propulsive narrative out of a grinding process that exhausts every one of its participants. Scribblers banking on built-in courtroom theatrics may be disappointed to discover that many cases are won or lost in discovery, in pretrial motions and jury selection — and that the great majority of cases settle before trial.
With “Broke Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War” (Texas Tech University Press, $29.95, illustrated) Austin lawyer Broadus Spivey — who for a time practiced in Lubbock– and local writer and musician Jesse Sublett have pulled off the feat, chronicling a 15-year tooth-and-nail battle betweenLubbock builder, developer and pillar of the community Maxey and Citizens National Bank of Lubbock, whom he sued along with his own former lawyers in 1966 for fraud, conspiracy and other abnormalities after the bank seized his millions of dollars’ worth of assets, including properties in four states, and liquidated them for peanuts. He wanted $20 million. He also wanted an apology.
In less dexterous hands this tale could have been as arid and uninviting as the South Plains dirt, but Spivey and Sublett have to their favor a colorful, tenacious and cantankerous protagonist who would not quit. As a quote that lends itself to one chapter puts it, “A Maxey never starts anything he doesn’t finish.”
They also have the advantage of getting their hands on records that hadn’t yet made it to the shredder, and the cooperation of a great many participants, family members and observers. It also doesn’t hurt that the story has elements of sabotage, skullduggery, conflict of interest and judicial misconduct. The subject and OK, the locale, may make this book a hard sell, but it’s worth the time, trust me. Born to some privilege, Maxey nonetheless was self-made and started working early. He had a business while attendingTexas Tech University — which he had helped build — and sold a lumber business to take a commission to serve in the Pacific during World War II.
After the war he started a wholesale plumbing and electrical supply business, and by the mid-1950s he was a millionaire, one of the forces making Lubbock into an actual city. Reduced to its essence, Maxey’s downfall is a familiar story: Moderately gullible businessman accustomed to handshake deals gets overextended, bank changes the rules and takes everything in the blink of an eye, and the mover and shaker is reduced to a nobody. And this happened in Lubbock, of all places.
As the authors write early on:
“Sitting high and dry on the Southern Plains, with its straight-line horizon and a street grid aligned with the compass,Lubbock, Texas looks quiet and peaceful, a place where radicals and other troublemakers would have no room to hide. One of the most culturally and politically conservative areas in the nation, it does not seem like the kind of place where a pillar of the community would carry on a 15-year legal battle against one of the town’s leading banks and, by proxy, dozens of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and families in the region. But that is just what Homer Glen Maxey did. It happened over four decades ago, and despite all those years more than a few of the surviving partisans are still upset about it.”
The specifics of Maxey’s saga are that he was given a line of unsecured credit of up to $1 million and that the bankers later changed the terms and made him sign numerous mortgages and collateral notes over months, meaning that if he defaulted on one debt the bank could take everything. Which it did.
It’s easy to hate banks, now as much as any other time in American history, but it’s also easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys here. As one observer put it, “People didn’t naturally fall in love with Homer because he was a grouchy old bastard, but they took his side because the bank just overhauled him.”
The first trial ended with a judgment of some $2.7 million for Maxey, or about $16 million in 2012 dollars, the authors note. The bank’s side won four straight years of appeals before the second trial, which resulted in a judgment of $3.7 million. )Maybe the bank should have cut its losses.) In all there were nine appeals, including two decisions by the Texas Supreme Court. The bank had lost customers in droves because folks sided with Maxey. And Maxey himself was exhausted and beginning to wear out. In September 1980, both sides agreed to settle for $2.2 million, meaning Maxey and his wife would be able to live comfortably. Maxey died at 79 at the beginning of 1980. He never got his apology. ——
Broadus Spivey and Jesse Sublett read from and discuss “Broke Not Broken” at 7 p.m. Monday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Broke Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War Broadus Spivey and Jesse Sublett Texas Tech University Press, $29.95, illustrated
(c)2014 Austin American-Statesman, Texas
Visit Austin American-Statesman, Texas at www.statesman.com
COMMENTS ABOUT BROKE, NOT BROKEN: HOMER MAXEY’S TEXAS BANK WAR
The story of a rich man’s rise and fall is not that unusual, but when set in ultra conservative, pro-business Lubbock, and the man is Homer Maxey, you’ve got an exceptional chronicle of the American Dream gone bad. Maxey’s relentless fight against the bank and the elite powers of West Texas who destroyed his wealth is a gripping read about power, greed, business culture, institutions, values, corruption and ultimately, vindication. ―Joe Nick Patoski, author of Willie Nelson: An Epic Life
Broadus Spivey and Jesse Sublett have delivered us a tale of Giant-like proportions. The greed and the virtue and the gray areas in between seem larger than life. But they aren’t. This is the real West Texas of the not-so-distant past populated by formidable oil men, avaricious connivers, and tough-as-bullets lawyers. And by one less than perfect hero, Homer Maxey, who refused to stand down once he’d been done wrong. Broke, Not Broken is a hell of a page-turner of a real-life legal thriller. ―W.K. Stratton, author of the PEN/ESPN Award finalist biography Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion and past president of the Texas Institute of Letters
As a lawyer, I was fascinated by the legal battles. As a citizen, I was appalled by the arrogant abuse of power by the Lubbock establishment. As a human being, I was moved by the courage and tenacity of Homer Maxey. —Dicky Grigg, civil trial attorney and Texas Tech University class of 1970