* All Random House Large Print editions are published in a 16-point typeface
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With the grace of a natural storyteller, NASA engineer Homer Hickam paints a warm, vivid portrait of the harsh West Virginia mining town of his youth, evoking a time of innocence and promise, when anything was possible, even in a company town that swallowed its men alive. A story of romance and loss, of growing up and getting out, Homer Hickam's lush, lyrical memoir is a chronicle of triumph--at once exquisitely written and marvelously entertaining.
One of the most beloved bestsellers in recent years, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir. A powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the end of the 1950s, it is the story of a mother's love and a father's fears, of growing up and getting out. With the grace of a natural storyteller, Homer Hickam looks back after a distinguished NASA career to tell his own true story of growing up in a dying coal town and of how, against the odds, he made his dreams of launching rockets into outer space come true.
A story of romance and loss and a keen portrait of life at an extraordinary point in American history, Rocket Boys is a chronicle of triumph.
Norma Wallace grew up fast. In 1916, at fifteen years old, she went to work as a streetwalker in New Orleans’ French Quarter. By the 1920s, she was a “landlady”—or, more precisely, the madam of what became one of the city’s most lavish brothels. It was frequented by politicians, movie stars, gangsters, and even the notoriously corrupt police force. But Wallace acquired more than just repeat customers. There were friends, lovers . . . and also enemies.
Wallace’s romantic interests ran the gamut from a bootlegger who shot her during a fight to a famed bandleader to the boy next door, thirty-nine years her junior, who became her fifth husband. She knew all of the Crescent City’s dirty little secrets, and used them to protect her own interests—she never got so much as a traffic ticket, until the early 1960s, when District Attorney Jim Garrison decided to clean up vice and corruption. After a jail stay, Wallace went legitimate as successfully as she had gone criminal, with a lucrative restaurant business—but it was love that would undo her in the end.
The Last Madam combines original research with Wallace’s personal memoirs, bringing to life an era in New Orleans history rife with charm and decadence, resurrecting “a secret world, like those uncovered by Luc Sante and James Ellroy” (Publishers Weekly). It reveals the colorful, unforgettable woman who reigned as an underworld queen and “capture[s] perfectly the essential, earthy complexity of the most fascinating city on this continent” (Robert Olen Butler).
Empire of Sin re-creates the remarkable story of New Orleans’ thirty-years war against itself, pitting the city’s elite “better half” against its powerful and long-entrenched underworld of vice, perversity, and crime. This early-20th-century battle centers on one man: Tom Anderson, the undisputed czar of the city's Storyville vice district, who fights desperately to keep his empire intact as it faces onslaughts from all sides. Surrounding him are the stories of flamboyant prostitutes, crusading moral reformers, dissolute jazzmen, ruthless Mafiosi, venal politicians, and one extremely violent serial killer, all battling for primacy in a wild and wicked city unlike any other in the world.
Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the twentieth century, was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. But then in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white “night riders” launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people and places of black Forsyth were forgotten.
National Book Award finalist Patrick Phillips tells Forsyth’s tragic story in vivid detail and traces its long history of racial violence all the way back to antebellum Georgia. Recalling his own childhood in the 1970s and ’80s, Phillips sheds light on the communal crimes of his hometown and the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth “all white” well into the 1990s. In precise, vivid prose, Blood at the Root delivers a “vital investigation of Forsyth’s history, and of the process by which racial injustice is perpetuated in America” (Congressman John Lewis).
Immortalized in blues songs and movies like Cool Hand Luke and The Defiant Ones, Mississippi’s infamous Parchman State Penitentiary was, in the pre-civil rights south, synonymous with cruelty. Now, noted historian David Oshinsky gives us the true story of the notorious prison, drawing on police records, prison documents, folklore, blues songs, and oral history, from the days of cotton-field chain gangs to the 1960s, when Parchman was used to break the wills of civil rights workers who journeyed south on Freedom Rides.
In telling Charlie’s story, Bragg conjures up the backwoods hamlets of Georgia and Alabama in the years when the roads were still dirt and real men never cussed in front of ladies. A masterly family chronicle and a human portrait so vivid you can smell the cornbread and whiskey, Ava’s Man is unforgettable.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
On a Friday night in March 1981 Henry Hays and James Knowles scoured the streets of Mobile in their car, hunting for a black man. The young men were members of Klavern 900 of the United Klans of America. They were seeking to retaliate after a largely black jury could not reach a verdict in a trial involving a black man accused of the murder of a white man. The two Klansmen found nineteen-year-old Michael Donald walking home alone. Hays and Knowles abducted him, beat him, cut his throat, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a racially mixed residential neighborhood.
Arrested, charged, and convicted, Hays was sentenced to death—the first time in more than half a century that the state of Alabama sentenced a white man to death for killing a black man. On behalf of Michael’s grieving mother, Morris Dees, the legendary civil rights lawyer and cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a civil suit against the members of the local Klan unit involved and the UKA, the largest Klan organization. Charging them with conspiracy, Dees put the Klan on trial, resulting in a verdict that would level a deadly blow to its organization.
Based on numerous interviews and extensive archival research, The Lynching brings to life two dramatic trials, during which the Alabama Klan’s motives and philosophy were exposed for the evil they represent. In addition to telling a gripping and consequential story, Laurence Leamer chronicles the KKK and its activities in the second half the twentieth century, and illuminates its lingering effect on race relations in America today.
The Lynching includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs.
In The Fires of Jubilee, Stephen B. Oates, the award-winning biographer of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., presents a gripping and insightful narrative of the rebellion—the complex, gifted, and driven man who led it, the social conditions that produced it, and the legacy it left. Here is the dramatic re-creation of the turbulent period that marked a crucial turning point in America’s history.
Kentucky never deserved its Indian appellation “A Dark and Bloody Ground” more than when a small-town physician, seventy-seven-year-old Roscoe Acker, called in an emergency on a sweltering evening in August 1985. Acker’s own life hung in the balance, but it was already too late for his college-age daughter, Tammy, savagely stabbed eleven times and pinned by a kitchen knife to her bedroom floor. Three men had breached Dr. Acker’s alarm and security systems and made off with the fortune he had stashed away over his lifetime.
The killers—part of a three-man, two-woman gang of the sort not seen since the Barkers—stopped counting the moldy bills when they reached $1.9 million. The cash came in handy soon after when they were caught and needed to lure Kentucky’s most flamboyant lawyer, the celebrated and corrupt Lester Burns, into representing them. Full of colorful characters and desperate deeds, A Dark and Bloody Ground is a “first-rate” true crime chronicle from the author of Murder in Little Egypt (Kirkus Reviews).
“An arresting look into the troubled psyches of these criminals and into the depressed Kentucky economy that became fertile territory for narcotics dealers, theft rings and bootleggers.” —Publishers Weekly
“The smell of wet, coal-laden earth, white lightning, and cocaine-driven sweat arises from these marvelously atmospheric—and compelling—pages.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A fascinating portrait of the mountain way of life and thought that forged the lives of these criminals.” —Library Journal
Korda paints a vivid and admiring portrait of Lee as a general and a devoted family man who, though he disliked slavery and was not in favor of secession, turned down command of the Union army in 1861 because he could not "draw his sword" against his own children, his neighbors, and his beloved Virginia. He was surely America's preeminent military leader, as calm, dignified, and commanding a presence in defeat as he was in victory. Lee's reputation has only grown in the 150 years since the Civil War, and Korda covers in groundbreaking detail all of Lee's battles and traces the making of a great man's undeniable reputation on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, positioning him finally as the symbolic martyr-hero of the Southern Cause.
Clouds of Glory features dozens of stunning illustrations, some never before seen, including eight pages of color, sixteen pages of black-and-white, and nearly fifty battle maps.
“This is Smith at her finest.”—Library Journal, starred review
Set deep in the mountains of Virginia, the Grundy of Lee Smith’s youth was a place of coal miners, tent revivals, mountain music, drive-in theaters, and her daddy’s dimestore. When she was sent off to college to gain some “culture,” she understood that perhaps the richest culture she would ever know was the one she was leaving. Lee Smith’s fiction has always lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story.
Dimestore’s fifteen essays are crushingly honest, wise and perceptive, and superbly entertaining. Together, they create an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished.
In 1904, the brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler, partner to John D. Rockefeller, dreamed of a railway connecting the island of Key West to the Florida mainland, crossing a staggering 153 miles of open ocean—an engineering challenge beyond even that of the Panama Canal. Many considered the project impossible, but build it they did. The railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for more than twenty-two years, heralded as “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” until its total destruction in 1935's deadly storm of the century.
In Last Train to Paradise, Standiford celebrates this crowning achievement of Gilded Age ambition, bringing to life a sweeping tale of the powerful forces of human ingenuity colliding with the even greater forces of nature’s wrath.
“A soaring and gorgeous American story” (Karen Abbott) from the author of the New York Times bestselling The Girls of Atomic City.
The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.
The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.
Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York’s best known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House.
Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore—and secure the future of the region and her husband’s legacy.
The Last Castle is the unique American story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.
Nearly every American has heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys. The violent feud between these two families has become shorthand for fierce, unyielding, and even violent confrontation. Yet despite numerous articles, books, television shows, and feature films, until THE FEUD nobody has ever told the true story of this legendary clash in the heart of Appalachia.
Drawing upon years of original research, including the discovery of previously lost and ignored evidence and interviews with surviving relatives of both families, Dean King has crafted a rip-roaring narrative packed with brutal murders, reckless affairs, mercenaries and detectives, and the long shadows of the Civil War. The result is an unvarnished and vastly entertaining work of history.
He learns, right from the start, that a man who chases a woman with a child is like a dog who chases a car and wins. He discovers that he is unsuited to fatherhood, unsuited to fathering this boy in particular, a boy who does not know how to throw a punch and doesn’t need to; a boy accustomed to love and affection rather than violence and neglect; in short, a boy wholly unlike the child Rick once was, and who longs for a relationship with Rick that Rick hasn’t the first inkling of how to embark on. With the weight of this new boy tugging at his clothes, Rick sets out to understand his father, his son, and himself.
The Prince of Frogtown documents a mesmerizing journey back in time to the lush Alabama landscape of Rick’s youth, to Jacksonville’s one-hundred-year-old mill, the town’s blight and salvation; and to a troubled, charismatic hustler coming of age in its shadow, Rick’s father, a man bound to bring harm even to those he truly loves. And the book documents the unexpected corollary to it, the marvelous journey of Rick’s later life: a journey into fatherhood, and toward a child for whom he comes to feel a devotion that staggers him. With candor, insight, tremendous humor, and the remarkable gift for descriptive storytelling on which he made his name, Rick Bragg delivers a brilliant and moving rumination on the lives of boys and men, a poignant reflection on what it means to be a father and a son.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Two months after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in February 1898, Congress authorized President McKinley to recruit a volunteer army to drive the Spaniards from Cuba. From this army emerged the legendary “Rough Riders,” a mounted regiment drawn from America’s western territories and led by the indomitable Theodore Roosevelt. Its ranks included not only cowboys and other westerners, but several Ivy Leaguers and clubmen, many of them friends of “TR.” Roosevelt and his men quickly came to symbolize American ruggedness, daring, and individualism. He led them to victory in the famed Battle at San Juan Hill, which made TR a national hero and cemented the Rough Riders’ place in history.
Now, Mark Lee Gardner synthesizes previously unknown primary accounts as well as period newspaper articles, letters, and diaries from public and private archives in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Boston, and Washington, DC, to produce this authoritative chronicle. He breathes fresh life into the Rough Riders and pays tribute to their daring feats and indomitable leader. Gardner also explores lesser-known aspects of the story, including their relationship with the African-American “Buffalo Soldiers, with whom they fought side by side at San Juan Hill.
Rich with action, violence, camaraderie, and courage, Rough Riders sheds new light on the Theodore Roosevelt saga—and on one of the most thrilling chapters in American history.
The first half of the fourteen essays deal with historical issues including Native Americans, pioneer settlement, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, industrialization, the Great Depression, migration, and finally, modernization. The remaining essays take a more cultural focus, addressing stereotypes, music, folklife, language, literature, and religion.
Bringing together many of the most prestigious scholars in Appalachian studies, this volume has been designed for general and classroom use, and includes suggestions for further reading.
Set in the heart of Appalachia, Salvation on Sand Mountain is Covington's unsurpassed and chillingly captivating exploration of the nature, power, and extremity of faith—an exploration that gradually turns inward, until Covington finds himself taking up the snakes.
Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of a dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city, told through the lives of night unforgettable characters and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed New Orleans in the 1960s, and Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. Dan Baum brings the kaleidoscopic portrait to life, showing us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.
In 1860 the American South was a vast, wealthy, imposing region where a small minority had amassed great political power and enormous fortunes through a system of forced labor. The South’s large population of slaveless whites almost universally supported the basic interests of plantation owners, despite the huge wealth gap that separated them. By the end of 1865 these structures of wealth and power had been shattered. Millions of black people had gained their freedom, many poorer whites had ceased following their wealthy neighbors, and plantation owners were brought to their knees, losing not only their slaves but their political power, their worldview, their very way of life. This sea change was felt nationwide, as the balance of power in Congress, the judiciary, and the presidency shifted dramatically and lastingly toward the North, and the country embarked on a course toward equal rights.
Levine captures the many-sided human drama of this story using a huge trove of diaries, letters, newspaper articles, government documents, and more. In The Fall of the House of Dixie, the true stakes of the Civil War become clearer than ever before, as slaves battle for their freedom in the face of brutal reprisals; Abraham Lincoln and his party turn what began as a limited war for the Union into a crusade against slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation; poor southern whites grow increasingly disillusioned with fighting what they have come to see as the plantation owners’ war; and the slave owners grow ever more desperate as their beloved social order is destroyed, not just by the Union Army, but also from within. When the smoke clears, not only Dixie but all of American society is changed forever.
Brilliantly argued and engrossing, The Fall of the House of Dixie is a sweeping account of the destruction of the old South during the Civil War, offering a fresh perspective on the most colossal struggle in our history and the new world it brought into being.
Praise for The Fall of the House of Dixie
“This is the Civil War as it is seldom seen. . . . A portrait of a country in transition . . . as vivid as any that has been written.”—The Boston Globe
“An absorbing social history . . . For readers whose Civil War bibliography runs to standard works by Bruce Catton and James McPherson, [Bruce] Levine’s book offers fresh insights.”—The Wall Street Journal
“More poignantly than any book before, The Fall of the House of Dixie shows how deeply intertwined the Confederacy was with slavery, and how the destruction of both made possible a ‘second American revolution’ as far-reaching as the first.”—David W. Blight, author of American Oracle
“Splendidly colorful . . . Levine recounts this tale of Southern institutional rot with the ease and authority born of decades of study.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A deep, rich, and complex analysis of the period surrounding and including the American Civil War.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Michael O'McCarthy and Robert W. Straley were teens when they were termed "incorrigible youth" by authorities and ordered to attend the Florida School for Boys. They discovered in Marianna, the "City of Southern Charm," an immaculately groomed campus that looked more like an idyllic university than a reform school. But hidden behind the gates of the Florida School for Boys was a hell unlike any they could have imagined. The school's guards and administrators acted as their jailers and tormentors. The boys allegedly bore witness to assault, rape, and possibly even murder.
For fifty years, both men---and countless others like them---carried their torment in silence. But a series of unlikely events brought O'McCarthy, now a successful rights activist, and Straley together, and they became determined to expose the Florida School for Boys for what they believed it to be: a youth prison with a century-long history of abuse. They embarked upon a campaign that would change their lives and inspire others.
Robin Gaby Fisher, a Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestselling After the Fire, collaborates with Straley and O'McCarthy to offer a riveting account of their harrowing ordeal. The book goes beyond the story of the two men to expose the truth about a century-old institution and a town that adopted a Nuremberg-like code of secrecy and a government that failed to address its own wrongdoing. What emerges is a tale of strength, resolve, and vindication in the face of the kinds of terror few can imagine.
In the seventies, coke hit Miami with the full force of a hurricane, and no place attracted dealers and dopers like Coconut Grove’s Mutiny at Sailboat Bay. Hollywood royalty, rock stars, and models flocked to the hotel’s club to order bottle after bottle of Dom and to snort lines alongside narcos, hit men, and gunrunners, all while marathon orgies burned upstairs in elaborate fantasy suites.
Amid the boatloads of powder and cash reigned the new kings of Miami: three waves of Cuban immigrants vying to dominate the trafficking of one of the most lucrative commodities ever known to man. But as the kilos—and bodies—began to pile up, the Mutiny became target number one for law enforcement.
Based on exclusive interviews and never-before-seen documents, Hotel Scarface is a portrait of a city high on excess and greed, an extraordinary work of investigative journalism offering an unprecedented view of the rise and fall of cocaine—and the Mutiny—in Miami.
The Alabama Communist Party was made up of working people without a Euro-American radical political tradition: devoutly religious and semiliterate black laborers and sharecroppers, and a handful of whites, including unemployed industrial workers, housewives, youth, and renegade liberals. In this book, Robin D. G. Kelley reveals how the experiences and identities of these people from Alabama's farms, factories, mines, kitchens, and city streets shaped the Party's tactics and unique political culture. The result was a remarkably resilient movement forged in a racist world that had little tolerance for radicals.
After discussing the book's origins and impact in a new preface written for this twenty-fifth-anniversary edition, Kelley reflects on what a militantly antiracist, radical movement in the heart of Dixie might teach contemporary social movements confronting rampant inequality, police violence, mass incarceration, and neoliberalism.
In the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, no symbol of disaster was more potent than New Orleans' Superdome: it became a horrific shelter of last resort where the utterly desperate rode out the storm.
Four years later, in that very stadium, the New Orleans Saints won the NFC championship and earned their first-ever trip to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the favored Indianapolis Colts 31-17.
This is the inspirational true story of a city recovering from disaster and a team with a history of heartbreak, as seen through the eyes of the coach who would help elevate them both to long- forgotten greatness.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins, under the expert leadership of legendary coach Don Shula, remain to this day the only team in the National Football League ever to enjoy a perfect season with no defeats and no ties. Now, 40 years after sports history was made, acclaimed sports writer Mike Freeman celebrates the Dolphins’ singular achievement in Undefeated. A riveting story filled with heartbreaking injuries, miraculous finishes, and tested relationships—featuring a roster of gridiron greats, including Bob Griese, Earl Morrall, Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield, Mercury Morris, Nick Buoniconti and others—Undefeated follows a underdog team on its remarkable run: 14 regular season victories, 2 postseason wins, and a Super Bowl championship. It is a book no football fan will want to miss.
In This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed, civil rights scholar Charles E. Cobb, Jr. reveals how nonviolent activists and their allies kept the civil rights movement alive by bearing—and, when necessary, using—firearms. Whether patrolling their neighborhoods, garrisoning their homes, or firing back at attackers, these men and women were crucial to the movement's success, as were the weapons they carried. Drawing on his firsthand experiences in the Southern Freedom Movement and interviews with fellow participants, Cobb offers a controversial examination of the vital role guns have played in securing American liberties.
“The constantly shifting cultural landscape of contemporary Georgia,” writes James C. Cobb, “presents a jumbled panorama of anachronism, contradiction, contrast, and peculiarity.” A Georgia native, Cobb delights in debunking familiar myths about his state as he brings its past to life and makes it relevant to today. Not all of that past is pleasant to recall, Cobb notes. Moreover, not all of today’s Georgians are as unequivocal as the tobacco farmer who informed a visiting journalist in 1938 that “we Georgians are Georgian as hell.” That said, a great many Georgians, both natives and new arrivals, care deeply about the state’s identity and consider it integral to their own. Georgia Odyssey is the ideal introduction to our past and a unique and often provocative look at the interaction of that past with our present and future.
Lowery argues that "Indian" is a dynamic identity that, for outsiders, sometimes hinged on the presence of "Indian blood" (for federal New Deal policy makers) and sometimes on the absence of "black blood" (for southern white segregationists). Lumbee people themselves have constructed their identity in layers that tie together kin and place, race and class, tribe and nation; however, Indians have not always agreed on how to weave this fabric into a whole. Using photographs, letters, genealogy, federal and state records, and first-person family history, Lowery narrates this compelling conversation between insiders and outsiders, demonstrating how the Lumbee People challenged the boundaries of Indian, southern, and American identities.
Appalachia—among the most storied and yet least understood regions in America—has long been associated with poverty and backwardness. But how did this image arise and what exactly does it mean? In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll launches an original investigation into the history of Appalachia and its place in U.S. history, with a special emphasis on how generations of its inhabitants lived, worked, survived, and depended on natural resources held in common.
Ramp Hollow traces the rise of the Appalachian homestead and how its self-sufficiency resisted dependence on money and the industrial society arising elsewhere in the United States—until, beginning in the nineteenth century, extractive industries kicked off a “scramble for Appalachia” that left struggling homesteaders dispossessed of their land. As the men disappeared into coal mines and timber camps, and their families moved into shantytowns or deeper into the mountains, the commons of Appalachia were, in effect, enclosed, and the fate of the region was sealed.
Ramp Hollow takes a provocative look at Appalachia, and the workings of dispossession around the world, by upending our notions about progress and development. Stoll ranges widely from literature to history to economics in order to expose a devastating process whose repercussions we still feel today.
The value of West Virginia’s coalfields had been known for decades, and after rail arrived in the 1870s, industrialists pushed fast into the wilderness, digging mines and building company towns where they wielded nearly complete control over everyday life. The state’s high-quality coal drove American expansion and industrialization, but for tens of thousands of laborers, including boys as young as ten, mining life showed the bitter irony of the state motto, “Mountaineers are Always Free.” Attempts to unionize were met with stiff resistance. Fundamental rights were bent, then broken, and the violence evolved from bloody skirmishes to open armed conflict, as an army of miners marched to an explosive showdown. Extensively researched and told in vibrant detail, The Devil is Here in These Hills is the definitive book on an essential chapter in the history of American freedom.
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana. A decade later, journalist Gary Rivlin traces the storm’s immediate damage, the city of New Orleans’s efforts to rebuild itself, and the storm’s lasting effects not just on the area’s geography and infrastructure—but on the psychic, racial, and social fabric of one of this nation’s great cities.
Much of New Orleans still sat under water the first time Gary Rivlin glimpsed the city after Hurricane Katrina as a staff reporter for The New York Times. Four out of every five houses had been flooded. The deluge had drowned almost every power substation and rendered unusable most of the city’s water and sewer system. Six weeks after the storm, the city laid off half its workforce—precisely when so many people were turning to its government for help. Meanwhile, cynics both in and out of the Beltway were questioning the use of taxpayer dollars to rebuild a city that sat mostly below sea level. How could the city possibly come back?
“Deeply engrossing, well-written, and packed with revealing stories….Rivlin’s exquisitely detailed narrative captures the anger, fatigue, and ambiguity of life during the recovery, the centrality of race at every step along the way, and the generosity of many from elsewhere in the country” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). Katrina tells the stories of New Orleanians of all stripes as they confront the aftermath of one of the great tragedies of our age. This is “one of the must-reads of the season” (The New Orleans Advocate).
Two months later:
“Charlotte Murray Pace fought from one room of that apartment to the other,” Prosecutor John Sinquefield told jurors as they blinked tears away. “She clawed, she hit, she fought. As her young, strong heart pumped its last blood out of the holes he cut out of her, she fought. And in the fight, he took her life, her body. But he could not take her honor. She preserved her honor by the way she lived and the way she died. That fight is not over, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Charlotte Murray Pace has brought her fight to you.”
These crimes are vividly depicted in this first comprehensive book about Derrick Todd Lee. I’ve Been Watching You—The South Louisiana Serial Killer dramatically tells the story of Lee’s life and follows the timeline of his reign of terror over South Louisiana. Readers will become intimately acquainted with the seven victims who have been linked to Lee by DNA, along with the frustrated investigators who could not catch this diabolical killer. This recounting also details the murders of ten other women who were not connected by DNA, but whom these authors believe should be included on the list of Lee’s victims due to strong circumstantial evidence.
There are many unanswered questions regarding these series of killings. How did Lee find his victims, and why did he choose them? Why didn’t the Multi-Agency Homicide Task Force believe he was the killer when his name was brought repeatedly to its attention? What evil possessed him to rape and murder so many women? All of these questions are answered as I’ve Been Watching You journeys for more than a decade through the small towns and swamps of South Louisiana to create a graphic accounting of Lee’s vicious rapes and homicides.
I’ve Been Watching You vividly paints the portrait of this monster and the beautiful women who died as a result of his twisted compulsion to kill.
Drawing on the memories of a variety of participants--including highly colorful characters like Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Gober Sosebee, Smokey Yunick, Bunky Knudsen, Humpy Wheeler, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, and Big Bill France himself--Real NASCAR shows how the reputation for wildness of these racers-by-day and bootleggers-by-night drew throngs of spectators to the tracks in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. They came to watch their heroes maneuver ordinary automobiles at incredible speed, beating and banging on each other, wrecking spectacularly, and fighting out their differences in the infield.
Although France faced many challenges--including a fickle Detroit that often seemed unsure of its support for the sport, safety issues that killed star drivers and threatened its very existence, and drivers who twice tried to unionize to gain a bigger piece of the NASCAR pie--by the early 1970s France and his allies had laid a firm foundation for what has become today a billion-dollar industry and arguably the largest spectator sport in America.
In The Great Deluge, bestselling author Douglas Brinkley finds the true heroes of this unparalleled catastrophe, and lets the survivors tell their own stories, masterly allowing them to record the nightmare that was Katrina.
Although legally a slave herself well into her adolescence, Dickson was much favored by her father and lived comfortably in his house, receiving a genteel upbringing and education. After her father died in 1885 Dickson inherited most of his half-million dollar estate, sparking off two years of legal battles with white relatives. When the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the will, Dickson became the largest landowner in Hancock County, Georgia, and the wealthiest black woman in the post-Civil War South.
Kent Anderson Leslie's portrayal of Dickson is enhanced by a wealth of details about plantation life; the elaborate codes of behavior for men and women, blacks and whites in the South; and the equally complicated circumstances under which racial transgressions were sometimes ignored, tolerated, or even accepted.
A World More Concrete argues that black and white landlords, entrepreneurs, and even liberal community leaders used tenements and repeated land dispossession to take advantage of the poor and generate remarkable wealth. Through a political culture built on real estate, South Florida’s landlords and homeowners advanced property rights and white property rights, especially, at the expense of more inclusive visions of equality. For black people and many of their white allies, uses of eminent domain helped to harden class and color lines. Yet, for many reformers, confiscating certain kinds of real estate through eminent domain also promised to help improve housing conditions, to undermine the neighborhood influence of powerful slumlords, and to open new opportunities for suburban life for black Floridians.
Concerned more with winners and losers than with heroes and villains, A World More Concrete offers a sober assessment of money and power in Jim Crow America. It shows how negotiations between powerful real estate interests on both sides of the color line gave racial segregation a remarkable capacity to evolve, revealing property owners’ power to reshape American cities in ways that can still be seen and felt today.
When painter Winslow Homer first sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, he was struck by its "special kind of providence." Indeed, the Gulf presented itself as America’s sea—bound by geography, culture, and tradition to the national experience—and yet, there has never been a comprehensive history of the Gulf until now. And so, in this rich and original work that explores the Gulf through our human connection with the sea, environmental historian Jack E. Davis finally places this exceptional region into the American mythos in a sweeping history that extends from the Pleistocene age to the twenty-first century.
Significant beyond tragic oil spills and hurricanes, the Gulf has historically been one of the world's most bounteous marine environments, supporting human life for millennia. Davis starts from the premise that nature lies at the center of human existence, and takes readers on a compelling and, at times, wrenching journey from the Florida Keys to the Texas Rio Grande, along marshy shorelines and majestic estuarine bays, profoundly beautiful and life-giving, though fated to exploitation by esurient oil men and real-estate developers.
Rich in vivid, previously untold stories, The Gulf tells the larger narrative of the American Sea—from the sportfish that brought the earliest tourists to Gulf shores to Hollywood’s engagement with the first offshore oil wells—as it inspired and empowered, sometimes to its own detriment, the ethnically diverse groups of a growing nation. Davis' pageant of historical characters is vast, including: the presidents who directed western expansion toward its shores, the New England fishers who introduced their own distinct skills to the region, and the industries and big agriculture that sent their contamination downstream into the estuarine wonderland. Nor does Davis neglect the colorfully idiosyncratic individuals: the Tabasco king who devoted his life to wildlife conservation, the Texas shrimper who gave hers to clean water and public health, as well as the New York architect who hooked the “big one” that set the sportfishing world on fire.
Ultimately, Davis reminds us that amidst the ruin, beauty awaits its return, as the Gulf is, and has always been, an ongoing story. Sensitive to the imminent effects of climate change, and to the difficult task of rectifying grievous assaults of recent centuries, The Gulf suggests how a penetrating examination of a single region's history can inform the country's path ahead.
The twentieth century had three great female singers who plumbed the darkest corners of their hearts and transformed private grief into public dramas. In opera, there was the unsurpassed Maria Callas. In jazz, the tormented Billie Holiday. And in country music, there was Tammy Wynette.
"Stand by Your Man," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," "Take Me to Your World" are but a few highlights of Tammy's staggering musical legacy, all sung with a voice that became the touchtone for women's vulnerability, disillusionment, strength, and endurance.
In Tammy Wynette, bestselling biographer Jimmy McDonough tells the story of the small-town girl who grew up to be the woman behind the microphone, whose meteoric rise led to a decades-long career full of tragedy and triumph. Through a high-profile marriage and divorce, her dreadful battle with addiction and illness, and the struggle to compete in a rapidly evolving Nashville, Tammy turned a brave smile toward the world and churned out masterful hit songs though her life resembled the most heartbreaking among them.
Tammy Wynette is an intimate portrait of a music icon, the Queen of Heartbreak, whose powerful voice simultaneously evoked universal pain and longing even as it belied her own.
Parental instruction was an important factor--both white parents' reinforcement of a white supremacist worldview and black parents' oppositional lessons in respectability and race pride. Children also learned much from their interactions across race lines. The fact that black youths were often eager to stand up for themselves, despite the risks, suggests that the emotional underpinnings of the civil rights movement were in place long before the historical moment when change became possible. Meanwhile, a younger generation of whites continued to enforce traditional patterns of domination and deference in private, while also creating an increasingly elaborate system of segregation in public settings. Exploring relationships between public and private and between segregation, racial etiquette, and racial violence, Growing Up Jim Crow sheds new light on tradition and change in the South and the meanings of segregation within southern culture.
If you think the wildest, wackiest stories that Carl Hiaasen can tell have all made it into his hilarious, bestselling novels, think again. Dance of the Reptiles collects the best of Hiaasen’s Miami Herald columns, which lay bare the stories--large and small--that demonstrate anew that truth is far stranger than fiction.
Hiaasen offers his commentary—indignant, disbelieving, sometimes righteously angry, and frequently hilarious—on burning issues like animal welfare, polluted rivers, and the broken criminal justice system as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Bernie Madoff's trial, and the shenanigans of the recent presidential elections. Whether or not you have read Carl Hiaasen before, you are in for a wild ride.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Slave narratives, among the most powerful records of our past, are extremely rare, with only fifty-five surviving post-Civil War. This book is a major new addition to this imperative part of American history—the firsthand accounts of two slaves, John Washington and Wallace Turnage, who through a combination of intelligence, daring, and sheer luck, reached the protection of the occupying Union troops and found emancipation.
In A Slave No More, David W. Blight enriches the authentic narrative texts of these two young men using a wealth of genealogical information, handed down through family and friends. Blight has reconstructed their childhoods as sons of white slaveholders, their service as cooks and camp hands during the Civil War, and their struggle to stable lives among the black working class in the north, where they reunited their families.
In the previously unpublished manuscripts of Turnage and Washington, we find history at its most intimate, portals that offer a startling new answer to the question of how four million people moved from slavery to liberty. Here are the untold stories of two extraordinary men whose stories, once thought lost, now take their place at the heart of the American experience—as Blight rightfully calls them, “heroes of a war within the war.”
“These powerful memoirs reveal poignant, heroic, painful and inspiring lives.”—Publishers Weekly
Combining hard-hitting investigative journalism and a sweeping family narrative, this provocative true story reveals a little-known chapter of American history: the period after the Brown v. Board of Education decision when one Virginia school system refused to integrate.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to obey the law. Rather than desegregate, the county closed its public schools, locking and chaining the doors. The community’s white leaders quickly established a private academy, commandeering supplies from the shuttered public schools to use in their all-white classrooms. Meanwhile, black parents had few options: keep their kids at home, move across county lines, or send them to live with relatives in other states. For five years, the schools remained closed.
Kristen Green, a longtime newspaper reporter, grew up in Farmville and attended Prince Edward Academy, which did not admit black students until 1986. In her journey to uncover what happened in her hometown before she was born, Green tells the stories of families divided by the school closures and of 1,700 black children denied an education. As she peels back the layers of this haunting period in our nation’s past, her own family’s role—no less complex and painful—comes to light.
At once gripping, enlightening, and deeply moving, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is a dramatic chronicle that explores our troubled racial past and its reverberations today, and a timeless story about compassion, forgiveness, and the meaning of home.
Following the Civil War, Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, thrived as a cauldron of sex and song, violence and passion. But out of this turmoil emerged a center of black progress, optimism, and cultural ferment. Preston Lauterbach tells this vivid, fascinating story through the multigenerational saga of a family whose ambition, race pride, and moral complexity indelibly shaped the city that would loom so large in American life.
Robert Church, who would become “the South’s first black millionaire,” was a mulatto slave owned by his white father. Having survived a deadly race riot in 1866, Church constructed an empire of vice in the booming river town. He made a fortune with saloons, gambling, and—shockingly—white prostitution. But he also nurtured the militant journalism of Ida B. Wells and helped revolutionize American music through the work of composer W.C. Handy, the man who claimed to have invented the blues.
In the face of Jim Crow, the Church fortune helped fashion the most powerful black political organization of the early twentieth century. Robert and his son, Bob Jr., bought and sold property, founded a bank, and created a park and auditorium for their people finer than the places whites had forbidden them to attend.
However, the Church family operated through a tense arrangement with the Democrat machine run by the notorious E. H. “Boss” Crump, who stole elections and controlled city hall. The battle between this black dynasty and the white political machine would define the future of Memphis.
Brilliantly researched and swiftly plotted, Beale Street Dynasty offers a captivating account of one of America’s iconic cities—by one of our most talented narrative historians.
– Douglas Brinkley
For all his fame and familiarity, George Washington remains something of an enigma - the stiff portrait on the dollar bill. But his story is full of drama. Here, acclaimed historian Richard Ketchum brings America's first president’s life to vivid life.
Initially, ex-slaves attempted to create an educational system that would support and extend their emancipation, but their children were pushed into a system of industrial education that presupposed black political and economic subordination. This conception of education and social order--supported by northern industrial philanthropists, some black educators, and most southern school officials--conflicted with the aspirations of ex-slaves and their descendants, resulting at the turn of the century in a bitter national debate over the purposes of black education. Because blacks lacked economic and political power, white elites were able to control the structure and content of black elementary, secondary, normal, and college education during the first third of the twentieth century. Nonetheless, blacks persisted in their struggle to develop an educational system in accordance with their own needs and desires.