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A Novel Based On the Life of Penina Krupitsky, a Holocaust Survivor
President Clinton and the Politics of Race and Class
As President Barack Obama was sworn into office on January 20, 2009, the United States was abuzz with talk of the first African American president. At this historic moment, one man standing on the inaugural platform, seemingly a relic of the past, had actually been called by the moniker the “first black president” for years.
President William Jefferson Clinton had long enjoyed the support of African Americans during his political career, but the man from Hope also had a complex and tenuous relationship with this faction of his political base. Clinton stood at the nexus of intense political battles between conservatives’ demands for a return to the past and African Americans’ demands for change and fuller equality. He also struggled with the class dynamics dividing the American electorate, especially African Americans. Those with financial means seized newfound opportunities to go to college, enter the professions, pursue entrepreneurial ambitions, and engage in mainstream politics, while those without financial means were essentially left behind. The former became key to Clinton’s political success as he skillfully negotiated the African American class structure while at the same time maintaining the support of white Americans. The results were tremendously positive for some African Americans. For others, the Clinton presidency was devastating.
Brother Bill examines President Clinton’s political relationship with African Americans and illuminates the nuances of race and class at the end of the twentieth century, an era of technological, political, and social upheaval.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the secretary of war to prescribe military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” Eventually this order was applied to one-third of the land area in the United States, mostly in the West, clearing the way for the relocation of 120,000 people with “Foreign Enemy Ancestry,” in other words, those of Japanese descent. This time of fear and prejudice (the U.S. government formally apologized for the relocations in 1982 after determining they were not a military necessity) and the Arkansas Delta are the setting for Camp Nine. The novel’s narrator, Chess Morton, lives in Rook, a place that is rural Arkansas in the extreme, a town too tiny to have a bank, a library, a restaurant, or even a church. Chess’s days are quiet and secluded until the appearance of a relocation center built for what was in effect the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese Americans. Chess’s life becomes intertwined with those of two young internees, Henry and David Matsui, and that of an American soldier mysteriously connected to her mother’s past. As Chess watches the struggles and triumphs of these strangers and sees her mother seek justice for these people who came briefly and involuntarily to call the Arkansas Delta their home, she discovers surprising and disturbing truths about her family’s painful past.
In her first book, Chord Box, Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers envisions a world where each place is best known by its sound. Weaving complex junctions between music, speech, the body, and sexuality, these poems trace the arc of adolescence and early adulthood, rooting themselves in gritty landscapes of the South and Appalachia, China and its borderlands. Part narrative and part lyric, Rogers’s poems make use of the whole field of the page, assembling an innovative poetic vocabulary that includes word, character, and symbol. By calling on figures from the recent as well as the distant past, this coming-of-age collection asks us to consider history, both personal and political. Whether struggling to make vibrato on the guitar or stringing together her first sentences in Mandarin, the speaker of these poems assumes the role of the eager student, edging her way toward an understanding with both fierceness and a sense of humility. Chord Box is exquisitely crafted and rich with feeling, a dazzling debut collection.
Beyond Battles and Leaders
In many of the poems in The Coal Life, Adam Vines, an avid outdoorsman and former professional landscaper for nearly twenty years, explores the cultural landscape of Alabama coal-mining camps in the first half of the twentieth century and how the industry can shape and distort a cultural text similar to the way it contorts and upturns the physical landscape.
The Civil War Memoir of Joseph M. Bailey
Joseph M. Bailey’s memoir, Confederate Guerrilla, provides a unique perspective on the fighting that took place behind Union lines in Federal-occupied northwest Arkansas during and after the Civil War. This story—now published for the first time—will appeal to modern readers interested in the grassroots history of the Trans-Mississippi war.
Daniel A. Rudd's Ecclesiologically-Centered Vision of Justice in "The American Catholic Tribune"
Daniel Rudd, born a slave in Bardstown, Kentucky, grew up to achieve much in the years following the Civil War. His Catholic faith, passion for activism, and talent for writing led him to increasingly influential positions in many places. One of his important early accomplishments was the publication of the American Catholic Tribune, which Rudd referred to as “the only Catholic journal owned and published by colored men.” At its zenith, the Tribune, run out of Detroit and Cincinnati, where Rudd lived, had ten thousand subscribers, making it one of the most successful black newspapers in the country. Rudd was also active in the leadership of the Afro-American Press Association, and he was a founding member of the Catholic Press Association. By 1889, Rudd was one of the nation’s best-known black Catholics. His work was endorsed by a number of high-ranking church officials in Europe as well as in the United States, and he was one of the founders of the Lay Catholic Congress movement. Later, his travels took him to Bolivar County, Mississippi, and eventually on to Forrest City, Arkansas, where he worked for the well-known black farmer and businessperson, Scott Bond, and eventually co-wrote Bond’s biography.
A Memoir of Farm and Family
Jo McDougall brings a poet’s sensibility to memoir. Recounting five generations of Delta rice farmers, through family archives and oral histories, she traces how the clan made their way into the fabric of America, beginning with her Belgian-immigrant grandfather, a pioneer rice farmer on the Arkansas Delta at the turn of the twentieth century. As John Grisham has for a 1950s Arkansas cotton farm, McDougall illuminates an Arkansas rice farm in the 1930s and 1940s. The Garot family’s acreage near DeWitt and the town itself provide the stage for McDougall’s wry, compelling, and layered account of the day-to-day of rice growing on the farm that her father inherited. In that setting she discovers a rich “universe of words” in the Great Depression, comes of age during World War II, and finds her way alongside “that whole quirky, compelling cast of characters” that comprised her kin. In this conflicted, ironic, southern-but-universal account of betrayal, heartbreak, loss, and joy, “the vagaries and the grace” of the land join forces with the power of money as family bonds are both forged and dissolved. Deeply felt, unsentimental, and often humorous, Daddy’s Money presents McDougall’s life and the lives of her relatives in the way that all our lives are eventually framed—as stories. “When all else is lost,” the author maintains, “the stories remain.”