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Library Alabama Classics

John Smith, Will Wordsworth

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The Looking-Glass

Originally published in 1943, The Looking-Glass is William March’ s story of a small Alabama town in the early days of the twentieth century. In it, he returns to a nonlinear style that interweaves the stories and voices of numerous characters.
 
Manny Nelloha, the junkman’ s son, tries to elude his mixed-race heritage by changing his name and personality. Wesley Boutwell is a good-natured but idle war veteran who spends his Saturdays with “ the girls” at Mattress May’ s. A haughty and irascible young genius, Rance Palmiller, is driven to a self-destructive rage when a hobo takes pity on him. Young Honey Boutwell belts out a ribald ballad at a children’ s party, presaging an illustrious and notorious career. Minnie McInnis McMinn is the warmhearted newspaperwoman who writes novels in a dialect no one’ s ever heard.
 
Connected by relationships that bind, support, and strangle, the citizens of March’ s Reedyville are drawn ineluctably toward a single climactic night. March’ s skillful blend of humor and pathos evince his deep insights and empathy into the problems of the mind and heart that are both peculiar to Reedyville yet found in every town and family.

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Mud on the Stars

William Bradford Huie’s first novel, Mud on the Stars, is largely autobiographical and is set in the years 1929-1942. As in many of his later books, the theme here is of the education of the inexperienced youth, which is, after all, the quintessential American story. Drawing on his own boyhood, Huie gives the reader a detailed account of rural life and race relations in the TennesseeValley in the early years of this century, including a vivid picture of college life at The University of Alabama during the Great Depression. Through a careful weaving of characters and events, fact and fiction, Huie’s novel captures the tumultuous times before World War II in the urban South, times of social unrest and testing of new political ideologies. The book’s publication in 1942 was a huge financial success, by the economic standards of the day, and not only brought Huie the acclaim his talent warranted but also focused an approving national spotlight on this prolific Alabama writer.

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Negro Education in Alabama

A Study in Cotton and Steel

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Ninety Degrees in the Shade

Clarence Cason belonged to that restless generation of southern intellectuals who, between the world wars, questioned the South's stubborn traditionalism, even as they tried to explain and defend its distinctiveness. From his professorial perch at The University of Alabama, Cason wrote polished essays for leading national publications while contributing weekly editorials for newspaper readers. As a journalist in academia, he cultivated a broad audience for his eloquent though tentative observations about the "character" of a region that seemed to be a separate province of the nation.

In 1935, Cason collected his thoughts in a small book of essays titled 90° in the Shade. In it, he declared that climate and the relaxation afforded by field and stream had given southerners excellent reasons for their notoriously slow pace of life. Still, he wrote, "there is much work that ought to be done below the Potomac." Cason captured the pathos of race relations and other persistent problems and declared that the abominable practice of lynching would end when the best people of the South risked their personal and commercial standing to denounce it. Just days before the book's publication, however, Cason shot himself in his campus office. He left no explanation, but apparently he feared angry reaction from fellow citizens to his mild criticisms and gentle suggestions for change.

The University of Alabama Press brought the book back into print in 1983. This new edition of Cason's classic features an introduction by journalist and UA professor H. Bailey Thomson, allowing yet another generation the enjoyment of Cason's perceptive writing, not so much for any remedy he proposed but rather for the open-minded and loving way in which he addressed the region's tragic experience.

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Old Mobile

Fort Louis de la Louisiane, 1702-1711

“Higginbotham has given to American historiography a microcosmic view of one of the earliest and most important outposts in the colonial new world. The Latin South can henceforth not be ignored.” – Alabama Historical Quarterly

“The definitive account . . . superbly recounted.” – Journal of Southern History

 “Meticulously documented. . . . Recommended for libraries interested in the colonial period.” – Choice

“Mind-boggling . . . a stupendous job of research. It is amazing that Higginbotham can recreate in such detail the lives of these people. All history books should be written like this.” – BirminghamMagazine

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Red Against Blue

The Liberal Party in Colombian Politics, 1863 - 1899

Written by Helen Delpar

“Delpar provides a history of Colombia’s liberal party covering a period in which it was first the dominant party (1863-1885) and then the party of opposition (1886-1899). Delpar’s study is well written and firmly grounded in extensive research [and] will occupy a prominent position in the sparse historiography of the late 19th century Colombia.” – Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR)
“Delpar has given us a book that is disarmingly unpretentious yet offers considerably more than the title implies. As a discussion of the Liberal Party during the latter part of the 19th century, it is more narrative and descriptive than theoretical and analytical, indeed quite free of both redundant conceptualization and overly self-conscious methodology.
“It pays due attention to historical origins, regional distribution of support the characteristics of Liberal leadership, Liberal doctrine such as it was, the rules of the political game under the constitution of 1863, and the Liberal’s adjustment to opposition status after their fall from power in the 1880s. The author’s tone is clear and she has used an impressive quantity of published sources plus the personal papers of a good number of prominent Liberals.

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Slavery in Alabama

Since its initial publication in 1950, Slavery in Alabama remains the only comprehensive statewide study of the institution of slavery in Alabama. Sellers concentrates on examining the social and economic aspects of how slavery operated in the state. After a brief discussion of slavery under imperial rulers of the colonial and territorial periods, Sellers focuses on the transplantation of the slavery system from the Atlantic seaboard states to Alabama.

Sellers used the primary sources available to him, including government documents, county and city records, personal papers, church records, and newspapers. His discussions of the church and the slave, and his treatment of the proslavery defense, deepen the comprehensiveness of his study. His two sections of photographs are special touches showing former slaves and churches with slave galleries.

 

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St. Elmo

Or, Saved at Last

St. Elmo was the most famed and beloved novel by Augusta Jane Evans, a June 2015 inductee into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame. First published in 1866, Evans’s rich tale of the relationship between the dashing and worldly St. Elmo and Edna Earl, an exemplar of virtuous Southern womanhood, sold over a million copies in four months and became one of the nineteenth century’s most influential novels.
 
This edition includes an introduction by Evans scholar Diane Roberts about the enduring relevance and legacy of St. Elmo as a work of literature as well as a reflection of gender roles and the seismic societal changes taking place in the United States in the aftermath of the Civil War.

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Stars Fell on Alabama

Stars Fell on Alabama is truly a classic. The book enjoyed enormous popularity and notoriety when it was first published (it was a selection of The Literary Guild and also sold widely in Europe). It can be described as a book of folkways—not journalism, or history, or a novel. At times it is impressionistic; at other times it conveys deep insights into the character of Alabama. Carmer visited every region of the state, always accompanied by someone intimately familiar with the locality. The mosaic that emerges from the pages of his book portrays Alabama’s human landscape in all its variety, and it is a work essential to an understanding of Alabama and its culture.

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