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TRAVELS WITH FOXFIRE

STORIES OF PEOPLE, PASSIONS, AND PRACTICES FROM SOUTHERN APPALACHIA

A lively model of modern folklore and a must for fans of the original series.

A welcome rekindling of the Foxfire franchise of books on Southern folkways.

Journalist Hudgins and former Foxfire student Phillips continue the fine tradition of publishing collections of oral history around Southern Appalachian cultural mores begun by teacher Eliot Wigginton in the early 1970s. There are modern wrinkles: Whereas an old-timer in the first edition would have described a ginseng-gathering folk economy with few practitioners and consumers, today the old-timers—i.e., men and women mostly born in the 1950s—recount an industry fueling a large Chinese market, so that, says Georgia master Tommy Hayes, “Some people go through the mountains like a vacuum cleaner,” adding, “but what are you going to do the next year?” In keeping with Foxfire tradition, there’s a little bit of everything in this collection: There are stories about outrunning the revenuers and the well-documented subsequent birth of stock car racing and thence NASCAR, of a “quasi-hippie” Kentucky police officer who once pulled “Elvis duty” to guard Presley on a run to an ophthalmologist’s appointment: “He wanted to buy my revolver, but I didn’t sell it to him.” More to the point, that police officer has since become a man of parts befitting the Appalachians: He makes banjos, knives, rifles, and sculptures, talks philosophy and archaeology, and generally enjoys the self-sufficient life for which the high country is known. Hudgins and Phillips also profile a cook who won the James Beard Award for collecting recipes for smoked ham, buttermilk cornbread, and the like (with a few recipes included here for good measure); a native-daughter historian of the African-American presence in the Southern Appalachians; a game warden, a turkey hunter, a cave explorer, the list goes on. A bonus is a lightly learned but revealing history of the classic mountain song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” itself revived with the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

A lively model of modern folklore and a must for fans of the original series.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-43629-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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