The guide to California stands out among the rest of the WPA guides for the quality of its writing, photographs, and pen-and-ink drawings. The Golden State contains much diversity of people, places, and things, and the WPA Guide expertly reflects and records the eclectic quality of this quintessentially American state. Published in 1939, the guide’s essays on history cover everything from the gold rush to the movie industry at the nascence of Hollywood’s golden age, and its back-road tours through California's coastal fishing villages and mountain mining towns still provide a splendid alternative to freeways.
The Granite State has a rich history and varied landscape, beautifully presented in the WPA Guide to New Hampshire. The driving tours highlight the White Mountains, Lake Winnipesaukee, and the coast near Portsmouth. This New Hampshire guide also has traditional photographs of churches, landscapes, and colonial houses which give readers a feel for life in New England in the early 20th century.
It isn’t surprising that a locale nicknamed the Constitution State has an impressive history—all of which is documented in the WPA Guide to Connecticut. The guide provides a comprehensive index of old and historic houses as well as an interesting timeline called “Connecticut Firsts” which lists historic happenings in the state from 1636 to 1936. The guide to the Nutmeg State also presents a number of tours through notable cities and towns, including New Haven and Yale University.
The WPA Guide to Virgina documents the vital role the Old Dominion played in the history of the first 150 years of the United States and before. It is packed with historical information, particularly from the Colonial and Revolutionary years, and supplemented with photos of historic buildings and sites. Also worth note are the artistic photographs of the state’s ordinary people and its natural beauty, including the Shenandoah and Chesapeake Bay regions.
The WPA Guide to Louisiana features a state influenced greatly by both Cajun and Southern cultures, as seen in the excellent photography and the chapter focused solely on traditional Louisiana cuisine. From Acadiana to the northern Sportsmans’ Paradise, this guide takes the reader on a journey across the swamplands of the Pelican State with several driving tours and special essays on the rich histories of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
In the 21st Century, Florida is a major center for industry and tourism; however, published in 1939, the WPA Guide to Florida exhibits a rather rural and quiet state. This guide gives an interesting perspective on the Sunshine State before its explosive growth starting in the 1950s, focusing on the state’s Seminole roots and Spanish influence as well as its lush, diverse landscape.
The rolling hills between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers are home to the Midwest’s Hawkeye State, faithfully cataloged in the WPA Guide to Iowa. Stressing the agricultural roots and varied crops grown throughout the state, this guide includes many pictures depicting the lives of Iowa farm workers in the 1930’s.
The Magnolia State of Mississippi is beautifully depicted in this WPA Guide originally published in 1938. While this Southern state is by no means average, the guide focuses on the daily lives of typical people from the region. There are two essays about farmers which contrast between the white farmers of the Central and Tennessee Hills and African American farmers of the Delta.
The WPA Guide to Colorado, not surprisingly, emphasizes the natural beauty of the Highest State. With a landscape ranging from alpine mountains with lush forests to arid deserts with massive sand dunes and a history that includes a rich Native American presence as well as booming mining and agriculture industries, the WPA guide shows how Colorado has earned the moniker “the Colorful State.”
The WPA Guide to South Carolina presents a state at the epicenter of Southern culture. The Palmetto State’s guide comes complete with the standard driving tours across the Blue Ridge Mountains and Mid-Atlantic coast as well as recipes for delicacies such has Cracklin’ Bread and Peach Leather.
The beautiful landscape as well as the significant role of the coal mining industry are both detailed in the WPA Guide to West Virginia. The essay “Country Folk and Country Ways” gives the reader an idea of how rural life was in the Mountain State in the early 20th century and the descriptions of Charleston, Clarksburg, and other cities are complete with stunning photographs of classic Southern architecture.
Published in 1941, the WPA Guide to Michigan documents the rich history and economies of the Great Lake State. From the Upper Peninsula to the Lower, and the Straits of Mackinac between, the guide features many photographs of the distinctive geography as well as essays about marine lore, architecture, and—in the essay on Detroit—the nation’s burgeoning auto industry.
According to the WPA Guide to North Dakota, there is more to the Northern Prairie State than meets the eye. Primarily an agricultural state, cattle ranching and the pioneer spirit are ever-present in this guide. Also, beautiful photographs of the Great Plains make this a visually pleasing guide the Peace Garden State.
The WPA Guide to Georgia describes the rich historical and cultural background of America’s Peach State. With varied and interesting photos, the guide gives readers a real taste as to what sweet southern living was like in the 1940’s, all the way from the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains down to the roaring Mississippi River valley.
The WPA Guide to the Show-Me State of Missouri literally shows the reader the virtues of this lovely region, by including vivid pictures of Art Deco skyscrapers in downtown Kansas City, farm scenes, the Ozark Mountains, and the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. It includes historical essays about the influence of these rivers on the state as well as Missouri’s important role in the American Civil War.
The Keystone State is well represented in the WPA Guide to Pennsylvania. The essays explore the rich descriptions of the states historically significant cities—such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia—as well as the diversity of the state which also includes many farms and small mining communities.
The WPA Guide to New Mexico certainly shows how this Southwest state earned its nickname the “Colorful State.” The blended influence of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo-American cultures account for the Land of Enchantment’s distinct flavor, thoroughly captured in the guide’s stunning photography as well as in its many essays on art, folklore, and language.
The WPA Guide to Maryland has some of the most thorough driving tours in the series. From the Allegheny Plateau to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Coast, the guide details Maryland’s diverse geography. The essays on the state’s two major cities—Baltimore and Annapolis—are especially engaging. Known as the Old Line State for its pivotal role in the American Revolution, Maryland’s rich history is also extensively detailed in the guide.
Although it is a slim volume, the WPA Guide to Tennessee is packed with useful and interesting information. There are sections on folklore and the state’s architectural and literary legacies as well as an essay on the Tennessee Valley Authority. There are 16 driving tours in total, through both the Volunteer State’s several major cities and the natural wonder of the Great Smokey Mountains Natural Park.
America’s Silver State takes the gold in the WPA Guide to Nevada. Originally published in 1940, the guide features the newly built Hoover Dam (then called the Boulder Dam), the Great Basin, the many caves in the eastern part of the state, the state’s several ghost towns, and an engaging essay of one of Nevada’s more important industries—“Mining and Mining Jargon.”
The WPA Guide to Delaware takes the reader on a journey through the coastal beauty of the state, from the Twelve-Mile Circle to the Nanticoke River. Although Delaware is the second smallest state in terms of area, the guide offers 27 driving tours accompanied by engaging photographs and pen-and-ink drawings. Published in 1938, this guide to the First State, also details Delaware’s rich history.
The WPA Guide to Oregon contains some quaint features, including a chapter entitled “Tall Tales and Legends” and a recipe for huckleberry cakes. The impact of the depression on the people of the Beaver State is discussed, and the beauty of the state is emphasized from the tips of the Cascadian Mountains to the agricultural region of Willamette Valley.
The WPA Guide to New York provides a total of 45 excellent tours, taking the reader across the Empire State, from Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks to the five boroughs of New York City. In addition to the nation’s center for culture and industry, New York also contains rich Native American, Revolutionary, and immigration history—all detailed in this diverse guide for a diverse state.
The Bluegrass State of Kentucky, which was primarily a rural state in the 1930’s when this WPA Guide was published, features Louisville as the only major city. Yet this does not limit the material in the guide by any means, as it also includes essays on Daniel Boone, bluegrass music, and old Southern American culture.
Originally published in 1939, the Cornhusker State is thoroughly detailed in this WPA Guide to Nebraska. In photographs and essays, the guide primarily depicts an agrarian state but it also contains an interesting essay on the state’s unicameral legislature; Nebraska is the only state in the union with this form of government.
The WPA Guide to Oklahoma is filled with descriptions of Native American life in the region, accompanied by many photographs. From Black Mesa to Cavanal Hill, this guide to the Sooner State takes the reader on a journey across the state’s vast and varied landscape. Also, notable in this guide is an essay by prominent historian Edward Everett Dale entitled “The Spirit of Oklahoma.”
The WPA Guide to Indiana documents a region with a diverse group of people and backgrounds, appropriately known as “the Crossroads of America.” Bounded by Lake Michigan and the Ohio River, Indiana contains a wealth of natural resources—all carefully detailed in this guide. In addition to a great deal of interesting early 20th century history, the WPA guide to the Hoosier State also has one of the most richly documented Native American histories in the collection.
America’s Dairyland is well represented in the WPA Guide to Wisconsin. Essays on the Badger State’s vital industries—including agriculture, lumber, and dairy—are included as well as an important look at the labor movement of the 1930s. From the Northern Highland and Lake Superior to the Driftless Area and the Eastern Ridges and Lowlands, the states unique geography is also photographically documented.
The Prarie State, nestled in the heart of the Midwest among the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, is finely represented in the WPA Guide to Illinois. The section on Chicago could stand alone as a guidebook in itself, spanning over 100 pages and incorporating the history and tourist attractions of the city. An essay about Abraham Lincoln by then governor Henry Horner, 26 total tours of the state, and a list of 50 books about the state of Illinois are also included in this extensive guide.
At the time of the publication of the WPA Guide to Arizona in 1940, the Grand Canyon State was the newest addition to the union. The guide presents a state of contrasts, both geographically and culturally. The photographs show many facets of the state—from the mesas and desert lands to the Spanish missions and Native American art.
The WPA Guide to Washington exhibits the beauty and individuality found in the Pacific Northwest. The guide takes the reader on a journey across the Evergreen State, from Seattle to Spokane with the Cascades in between. Essays on the state’s large lumber industry and its role in the westward expansion are included.
America’s Heartland is well depicted in this WPA Guide to Kansas, originally published in 1939. Kansas, also nicknamed the “Sunflower State” because of its rich agricultural roots and the “Jayhawker State” because of its distinct role in the American Civil War, has a diverse and extensive history.
Equaling the massive size of the state, the WPA Guide to Texas is just as expansive at 716 pages. From the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley, The Lone Star State’s landscape is as varied as its political and cultural past. Having been under the control of six different nations’ flags, the history section is particularly rich. The guide also includes a helpful list of books about the state.
The WPA Guide to Alabama takes the reader on a journey of through the heart of Dixie, from the Gulf coast to the rich Black Belt region and the scenic Cumberland Plateau. First published in 1941, the guide goes beyond the popular images of cotton fields and plantation houses of the old south and brings to light the “magic” of Birmingham’s burgeoning manufacturing industry, the vibrant university life in Tuscaloosa, and, in Mobile, the cultural diversity of Alabama’s port city. The guide includes striking photos of Southern poverty during the Depression.
Featuring one of the most historically rich regions of America, the WPA Guide to Massachusetts is an excellent comprehensive guide to the “Bay State.” Focusing on urban Boston, also known as the Cradle of Liberty, and including rural Plymouth, this guide features a comprehensive tour scheme to engage tourists and residents alike.
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.
* 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.
New Orleans, 1900. Mary Deubler makes a meager living as an “alley whore.” That all changes when bible-thumping Alderman Sidney Story forces the creation of a red-light district that’s mockingly dubbed “Storyville.” Mary believes there’s no place for a lowly girl like her in the high-class bordellos of Storyville’s Basin Street, where Champagne flows and beautiful girls turn tricks in luxurious bedrooms. But with gumption, twists of fate, even a touch of Voodoo, Mary rises above her hopeless lot to become the notorious Madame Josie Arlington.
Filled with fascinating historical details and cameos by Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and E. J. Bellocq, Madam is a fantastic romp through The Big Easy and the irresistible story of a woman who rose to power long before the era of equal rights.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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.
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.
“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.
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).
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.
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.
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.