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The Atomic West Cover

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The Atomic West

edited by Bruce Hevly and John M. Findlay

Avenues of Faith Cover

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Avenues of Faith

Shaping the Urban Religious Culture of Richmond, Virginia, 1900-1929

Written by Samuel C. Shepherd Jr

Avenues of Faith documents how religion flourished in southern cities after the turn of the century and how a cadre of clergy and laity created a notably progressive religious culture in Richmond, the bastion of the Old South. Famous as the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond emerges as a dynamic and growing industrial city invigorated by the social activism of its Protestants.

By examining six mainline white denominations-Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, and Lutherans-Samuel C. Shepherd Jr. emphasizes the extent to which the city fostered religious diversity, even as "blind spots" remained in regard to Catholics, African Americans, Mormons, and Jews. Shepherd explores such topics as evangelism, interdenominational cooperation, the temperance campaign, the Sunday school movement, the international peace initiatives, and the expanding role of lay people of both sexes. He also notes the community's widespread rejection of fundamentalism, a religious phenomenon almost automatically associated with the South, and shows how it nurtured social reform to combat a host of urban problems associated with public health, education, housing, women's suffrage, prohibition, children, and prisons.

In lucid prose and with excellent use of primary sources, Shepherd delivers a fresh portrait of Richmond Protestants who embraced change and transformed their community, making it an active, progressive religious center of the New South.


Aztlán Arizona Cover

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Aztlán Arizona

Mexican American Educational Empowerment, 1968–1978

Darius V. Echeverría

Aztlán Arizona is a history of the Chicano Movement in Arizona in the 1960s and 1970s. Focusing on community and student activism in Phoenix and Tucson, Darius V. Echeverría ties the Arizona events to the larger Chicano and civil rights movements against the backdrop of broad societal shifts that occurred throughout the country. Arizona’s unique role in the movement came from its (public) schools, which were the primary source of Chicano activism against the inequities in the judicial, social, economic, medical, political, and educational arenas.
    The word Aztlán, originally meaning the legendary ancestral home of the Nahua peoples of Mesoamerica, was adopted as a symbol of independence by Chicano/a activists during the movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  In an era when poverty, prejudice, and considerable oppositional forces blighted the lives of roughly one-fifth of Arizonans, the author argues that understanding those societal realities is essential to defining the rise and power of the Chicano Movement.
    The book illustrates how Mexican American communities fostered a togetherness that ultimately modified larger Arizona society by revamping the educational history of the region. The concluding chapter outlines key Mexican American individuals and organizations that became politically active in order to address Chicano educational concerns. This Chicano unity, reflected in student, parent, and community leadership organizations, helped break barriers, dispel the Mexican American inferiority concept, and create educational change that benefited all Arizonans.
    No other scholar has examined the emergence of Chicano Movement politics and its related school reform efforts in Arizona. Echeverría’s thorough research, rich in scope and interpretation, is coupled with detailed and exact endnotes. The book helps readers understand the issues surrounding the Chicano Movement educational reform and ethnic identity. Equally important, the author shows how residual effects of these dynamics are still pertinent today in places such as Tucson.

Back Talk from Appalachia Cover

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Back Talk from Appalachia

Confronting Stereotypes

edited by Dwight B. Billings, Gurney Norman, and Katherine Ledford

Appalachia has long been stereotyped as a region of feuds, moonshine stills, mine wars, environmental destruction, joblessness, and hopelessness. Robert Schenkkan's 1992 Pulitzer-Prize winning play The Kentucky Cycle once again adopted these stereotypes, recasting the American myth as a story of repeated failure and poverty--the failure of the American spirit and the poverty of the American soul. Dismayed by national critics' lack of attention to the negative depictions of mountain people in the play, a group of Appalachian scholars rallied against the stereotypical representations of the region's people. In Back Talk from Appalachia, these writers talk back to the American mainstream, confronting head-on those who view their home region one-dimensionally. The essays, written by historians, literary scholars, sociologists, creative writers, and activists, provide a variety of responses. Some examine the sources of Appalachian mythology in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature. Others reveal personal experiences and examples of grassroots activism that confound and contradict accepted images of ""hillbillies."" The volume ends with a series of critiques aimed directly at The Kentucky Cycle and similar contemporary works that highlight the sociological, political, and cultural assumptions about Appalachia fueling today's false stereotypes.

Back to the Land Cover

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Back to the Land

The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America

Dona Brown

For many, “going back to the land” brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s—hippie communes and the Summer of Love, The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News. More recently, the movement has reemerged in a new enthusiasm for locally produced food and more sustainable energy paths. But these latest back-to-the-landers are part of a much larger story. Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. In Back to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse.

            Back-to-the-landers have often been viewed as nostalgic escapists or romantic nature-lovers. But their own words reveal a more complex story. In such projects as Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City,” and Helen and Scott Nearing’s quest for “the good life,” Brown finds that the return to the farm has meant less a going-backwards than a going-forwards, a way to meet the challenges of the modern era. Progressive reformers pushed for homesteading to help impoverished workers get out of unhealthy urban slums. Depression-era back-to-the-landers, wary of the centralizing power of the New Deal, embraced a new “third way” politics of decentralism and regionalism. Later still, the movement merged with environmentalism. To understand Americans’ response to these back-to-the-land ideas, Brown turns to the fan letters of ordinary readers—retired teachers and overworked clerks, recent immigrants and single women. In seeking their rural roots, Brown argues, Americans have striven above all for the independence and self-sufficiency they associate with the agrarian ideal.

Backwater Blues Cover

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Backwater Blues

The Mississippi Flood of 1927 in the African American Imagination

Richard M. Mizelle Jr.

The Mississippi River flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in U.S. history, reshaping the social and cultural landscape as well as the physical environment. Often remembered as an event that altered flood control policy and elevated the stature of powerful politicians, Richard M. Mizelle Jr. examines the place of the flood within African American cultural memory and the profound ways it influenced migration patterns in the United States.

In Backwater Blues, Mizelle analyzes the disaster through the lenses of race and charity, blues music, and mobility and labor. The book’s title comes from Bessie Smith’s “Backwater Blues,” perhaps the best-known song about the flood. Mizelle notes that the devastation produced the richest groundswell of blues recordings following any environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, with more than fifty songs by countless singers evoking the disruptive force of the flood and the precariousness of the levees originally constructed to protect citizens. Backwater Blues reveals larger relationships between social and environmental history. According to Mizelle, musicians, Harlem Renaissance artists, fraternal organizations, and Creole migrants all shared a sense of vulnerability in the face of both the Mississippi River and a white supremacist society. As a result, the Mississippi flood of 1927 was not just an environmental crisis but a racial event.

Challenging long-standing ideas of African American environmental complacency, Mizelle offers insights into the broader dynamics of human interactions with nature as well as ways in which nature is mediated through the social and political dynamics of race.Includes discography.

Bad Boy from Rosebud Cover

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Bad Boy from Rosebud

The Murderous Life of Kenneth Allen McDuff

Gary M. Lavergne

In October of 1989, the State of Texas set Kenneth Allen McDuff, the Broomstick Murderer, free on parole. By choosing to murder again, McDuff became the architect of an extraordinarily intolerant atmosphere in Texas. The spasm of prison construction and parole reforms—collectively called the “McDuff Rules”—resulted from an enormous display of anger vented towards a system that allowed McDuff to kill, and kill again. Bad Boy from Rosebud is a chilling account of the life of one of the most heartless and brutal serial killers in American history. Gary M. Lavergne goes beyond horror into an analysis of the unbelievable subculture in which McDuff lived. Equally compelling are the lives of remarkable law enforcement officers determined to bring McDuff to justice, and their seven-year search for his victims. “Texas still feels the pain inflicted by Kenneth Allen McDuff, despite the relentless efforts of law enforcement officials to solve his crimes and bind up its wounds. Bad Boy from Rosebud is an impeccably researched, compellingly detailed account of the crimes and the long search for justice. Gary Lavergne takes us directly to the scenes of the crimes, deep inside the mind of a killer, and in the process learns not only whom McDuff killed and how—but why. This is classic crime reporting.”—Dan Rather, CBS News

Bad Company and Burnt Powder Cover

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Bad Company and Burnt Powder

Justice and Injustice in the Old Southwest

Bob Alexander

Bad Company and Burnt Powder is a collection of twelve stories of when things turned "Western" in the nineteenth-century Southwest. Each chapter deals with a different character or episode in the Wild West involving various lawmen, Texas Rangers, outlaws, feudists, vigilantes, lawyers, and judges. Covered herein are the stories of Cal Aten, John Hittson, the Millican boys, Gid Taylor and Jim and Tom Murphy, Alf Rushing, Bob Meldrum and Noah Wilkerson, P. C. Baird, Gus Chenowth, Jim Dunaway, John Kinney, Elbert Hanks and Boyd White, and Eddie Aten. Within these pages the reader will meet a nineteen-year-old Texas Ranger figuratively dying to shoot his gun. He does get to shoot at people, but soon realizes what he thought was a bargain exacted a steep price. Another tale is of an old-school cowman who shut down illicit traffic in stolen livestock that had existed for years on the Llano Estacado. He was tough, salty, and had no quarter for cow-thieves or sympathy for any mealy-mouthed politicians. He cleaned house, maybe not too nicely, but unarguably successful he was. Then there is the tale of an accomplished and unbeaten fugitive, well known and identified for murder of a Texas peace officer. But the Texas Rangers couldn't find him. County sheriffs wouldn't hold him. Slipping away from bounty hunters, he hit Owlhoot Trail.

A Badger Boy in Blue Cover

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A Badger Boy in Blue

The Civil War Letters of Chauncey H. Cooke

With an Introduction and Appendix by William Mulligan, Jr.

The Civil War letters of a young Wisconsin soldier, previously published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, 1920–1922, are made available for the first time to a wide audience.

The Baltimore Elite Giants Cover

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The Baltimore Elite Giants

Sport and Society in the Age of Negro League Baseball

Bob Luke

One of the best-known teams in the old Negro Leagues, the Elite Giants of Baltimore featured some of the outstanding African American players of the day. Sociologist and baseball writer Bob Luke narrates the untold story of the team and its interaction with the city and its people during the long years of segregation. To convey a sense of the action on the field and the major events in the team’s history, Luke highlights important games, relives the standout performances of individual players, and discusses key decisions made by management. He introduces the team’s eventual major league stars: Roy Campanella, who went on to a ten-year Hall of Fame career with the Brooklyn Dodgers; Joe Black, the first African American pitcher to win a World Series game; and James “Junior” Gilliam, a player and coach with the Dodgers for twenty-five years. Luke also describes the often contentious relationship between the team and major league baseball before, during, and after the major leagues were integrated. The Elite Giants did more than provide entertainment for Baltimore’s black residents; the team and its star players broke the color barrier in the major leagues, giving hope to an African American community still oppressed by Jim Crow. In recounting the history of the Elite Giants, Luke reveals how the team, its personalities, and its fans raised public awareness of the larger issues faced by blacks in segregation-era Baltimore. Based on interviews with former players and Baltimore residents, articles from the black press of the time, and archival documents, and illustrated with previously unpublished photographs, The Baltimore Elite Giants recounts a barrier-breaking team’s successes, failures, and eventual demise.

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