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My 4,600-Mile Journey through the South
Inspired by a 1937 map and travelogue of a newspaperman’s tour, author Mark W. Nichols embarked on his own long journey into the unique cities of the South. En route he met beekeepers, cheese makers, crawfish “bawlers,” duck callers, and a licensed alligator hunter, as well as entrepreneurs and governors. His keen observations encompass the southern states from Virginia to Arkansas and points south, and he unpacks the unique qualities of every city he visits. “It’s easy to say that getting to meet so many interesting and wonderful people was the best part of the journey--because it’s true,” Nichols writes. “I know there are friendly people everywhere, but southern friendliness is different.” His story embraces a wealth of southern charm from local characters, folklore, and customs to food, music, and dancing. Besides being just plain fun to read, Nichols’s account of his journey gives readers a true taste of the flavor of the evolving modern South.
“Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum is not a poet of small ambition. He reaches after big subjects in the high style, and—mirabile dictu—he brings it off. There is something of Walt Whitman in McFadyen-Ketchum. He is a rhapsodist spinning words into a musical web. Line by line the poems pulse with verbal energy. His language is all meat and muscle. And yet, at the heart of the poems, one finds not simply a literary performance but a tender alertness to the world.” —Dana Gioia, author of Pity the Beautiful: Poems and Interrogations at Noon: Poems
“A most useful guide to a subject that has long been neglected, and McGhee deserves high marks for the tremendous amount of research that obviously was required.” —Journal of America’s Military Past “Deeply researched, skillfully compiled and deftly organized, and remarkably complete . . . authoritative.” —Civil War Books and Authors “This well organized and authoritative reference work reflects years of painstaking research, verification of details, and extremely careful editing.” —T. Michael Parrish, Baylor University
“The past is a flame you must learn to hold / your hand above,” Eric Leigh writes in this first volume of poems, a poignant meditation on the harm that we can and cannot keep from those we love, and the harm that cannot be kept from us. Taking place in both the rural and the urban, in fields and on sidewalks, in gay bars and in laboratories, with topics as diverse and powerful as a father's suicide, a mother's resilience, coming out, lost love and the continuing plight of HIV, Leigh’s poems locate the heartbreaking music in these struggles.
In 1981, James F. Cherry embarked on what evolved into a passionate, personal quest to identify and document all the known headpots of Mississippian Indian culture from northeast Arkansas and the bootheel region of southeast Missouri. Produced by two groups the Spanish called the Casqui and Pacaha and dating circa AD 1400–1700, headpots occur, with few exceptions, only in a small region of Arkansas and Missouri. Relatively little is known about these headpots: did they portray kinsmen or enemies, the living or the dead or were they used in ceremonies, in everyday life, or exclusively for the sepulcher? Cherry’s decades of research have culminated in the lavishly illustrated The Headpots of Northeast Arkansas and Southern Pemiscot County, Missouri, a fascinating, comprehensive catalog of 138 identified classical style headpots and an invaluable resource for understanding the meaning of these remarkable ceramic vessels.
The Society of Friends and Black Education in Arkansas
In 1864 Alida and Calvin Clark, two abolitionist members of the Religious Society of Friends from Indiana, went on a mission trip to Helena, Arkansas. The Clarks had come to render temporary relief to displaced war orphans but instead found a lifelong calling. During their time in Arkansas, they started the school that became Southland College, which was the first institution of higher education for blacks west of the Mississippi, and they set up the first predominately black monthly meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in North America. Their progressive racial vision was continued by a succession of midwestern Quakers willing to endure the primitive conditions and social isolation of their work and to overcome the persistent challenges of economic adversity, social strife, and natural disaster. Southland’s survival through six difficult and sometimes dangerous decades reflects both the continuing missionary zeal of the Clarks and their successors as well as the dedication of the black Arkansans who sought dignity and hope at a time when these were rare commodities for African Americans in Arkansas.
The Lives of Clair Bee and Chip Hilton
Clair Bee (1896–1983) was a hugely successful basketball coach at Rider College and Long Island University with a 412 and 87 record before his career was derailed in 1951 by a point-shaving scandal. In the trial that sent his star player, Sherman White, to prison, the judge excoriated Bee for creating a morally lax culture that contributed to his players' involvement with gambling. To a certain extent, Bee agreed with the judge's scolding, concluding that coaches, himself included, had become so driven to succeedon the court that they had lost sight of the educational role sports should play. His coaching career effectively over, Bee launched an effort to reform the ills he saw in college sports, and he did so in the pages of the Chip Hilton novels for young readers. He began the series in 1948, but it was the post-scandal books that he used as teaching tools. The books mirrored some of the events of the gambling scandal and were Bee's attempt to reform the problems plaguing college sports. He used his fiction to posit a better sports world that he hoped his young readers would construct and inhabit. The Chip Hilton books were extremely popular and have become a classic series, with over two million copies sold to date. Hoop Crazy is the fascinating story of Clair Bee and his star character Chip Hilton and the ways in which their lives, real and fictional, were intertwined.
Past and Present
New and Selected Essays
From a maximum-security prison to a cancer ward, from a mental institution to the World Trade Center, Laurence Gonzales's prose grips from the first sentence. Sometimes hair-raising, sometimes heart-wrenching, among these essays is "Marion Prison," a National Magazine Award finalist, with its intimate view inside the most maximum security prison in America. "House of Pain" takes the reader into the life of a brain surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, a grim world that few ever see. "Rites of Spring," another National Magazine Award finalist, follows Gonzales and his then wife on their journey through cancer, not once, but twice. Other stories venture above the Arctic Circle, fly deep into the Alaskan wilderness among grizzly bears and trumpeter swans, explore aerobatics in high-performance aircraft, and eulogize aspects of Memphis and Miami as American cities that mourn their fates in uniquely different ways.
First Person Accounts of Civil War Arkansas from the Arkansas Historical Quarterly
I Do Wish this Cruel War Was Over collects diaries, letters, and memoirs excerpted from their original publication in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly to offer a first-hand, ground-level view of the war’s horrors, its mundane hardships, its pitched battles and languid stretches, even its moments of frivolity. Readers will find varying degrees of commitment and different motivations among soldiers on both sides, along with the perspective of civilians living both in the thick of conflict and at a painful distance from fighting kin. In many cases, these documents address aspects of the war that would become objects of scholarly and popular fascination only years after their initial appearance: the guerrilla conflict that became the “real war” west of the Mississippi; the “hard war” waged against civilians long before William Tecumseh Sherman set foot in Georgia; the work of women in maintaining households in the absence of men; and the complexities of emancipation, which saw African Americans winning freedom and sometimes losing it all over again. Altogether, these first-person accounts provide an immediacy and a visceral understanding of what it meant to survive the Civil War in Arkansas.