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Mississippi Books and Writers

November 2002

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

To AmericaTo America: Personal Reflections of an Historian

By Stephen E. Ambrose

Simon & Schuster (Hardcover, $24.00, ISBN: 0743202759)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from the publisher:

In To America, Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the country’s most influential historians, reflects on his long career as an American historian and explains what an historian’s job is all about. He celebrates America’s spirit, which has carried us so far. He confronts its failures and struggles. As always in his much acclaimed work, Ambrose brings alive the men and women, famous and not, who have peopled our history and made the United States a model for the world.

Taking a few swings at today’s political correctness, as well as his own early biases, Ambrose grapples with the country’s historic sins of racism, its neglect and ill treatment of Native Americans, and its tragic errors (such as the war in Vietnam, which he ardently opposed on campus, where he was a professor). He reflects on some of the country’s early founders who were progressive thinkers while living a contradiction as slaveholders, great men such as Washington and Jefferson. He contemplates the genius of Andrew Jackson’s defeat of a vastly superior British force with a ragtag army in the War of 1812. He describes the grueling journey that Lewis and Clark made to open up the country, and the building of the railroad that joined it and produced great riches for a few barons.

Ambrose explains the misunderstood presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, records the country’s assumption of world power under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, and extols its heroic victory of World War II. He writes about women’s rights and civil rights and immigration, founding museums, and nation- building. He contrasts the presidencies of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Throughout, Ambrose celebrates the unflappable American spirit.

Most important, Ambrose writes about writing history. “The last five letters of the word ‘history’ tell us that it is an account of the past that is about people and what they did, which is what makes it the most fascinating of subjects.”

To America is an instant classic for all those interested in history, patriotism, and the love of writing.

Mississippi HarmonyMississippi Harmony: Memoirs of a Freedom Fighter

By Winson Hudson and Constance Curry

Palgrave Macmillan (Hardcover, $26.95, ISBN: 0312295537)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from the publisher:

In 1963, Winson Hudson finally registered to vote in Leake County, Mississippi, when she interpreted part of the state constitution by saying, “It meant what it said and it said what it meant.” Her first attempt had been in 1937. A lifelong native of the rural, all-black community of Harmony, Winson has lived through some of the most racially oppressive periods in her state’s history—and has devoted her life to combating discrimination. With her sister Dovie, Winson filed the first lawsuit to desegregate the public schools in a rural county. Helping to establish the county NAACP chapter in 1961, Winson served as its president for 38 years. Her work has included voting rights, school desegregation, health care, government loans, telephone service, good roads, housing, and childcare—issues that were intertwined with the black freedom struggle.

Winson’s narrative, presented in her own words with historical background from noted author and activist Constance Curry, is both triumphant and tragic, inspiring and disturbing. It illustrates the virtually untold story of the role that African American women played in the civil rights movement at the local level in black communities throughout the South.

Winson Hudson was born in Carthage, Mississippi in 1916. Her many honors include the NAACP’s Freedom Award for Outstanding Community Service and inclusion in Brian Lanker’s book of photographs of black women who changed America, I Dream a World. Constance Curry is an activist, attorney, and professor of women’s studies at Emory University. She has written several books on the the civil rights movement, including Deep in Our Hearts and the award-winning Silver Rights.

Jackpot BayJackpot Bay

By Martin Hegwood

St. Martin’s/Minotaur (Hardcover, $23.95, ISBN: 0312280963)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

The “Redneck Riviera,” aka the Mississippi coast, provides the sultry setting for Jackpot Bay, the fourth Jack Delmas novel (Massacre Island, etc.) from Martin Hegwood, senior attorney for the secretary of state’s office of Mississippi. With a deadly gun battle at the Jackpot Bay casino, a sexy security auditor and a rock concert besieged by fundamentalists, Jack has plenty to straighten out in this fast-paced, hard-edged thriller. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Mississippi: An Illustrated History Mississippi: An Illustrated History

By Edward N. Akin and Charles C. Bolton

American Historical Press (Hardcover, $32.95, ISBN: 1892724332)

Updated edition; first published in 1987

Publication date: November 2002

Description:

This updated history of Mississippi chronicles the saga of the Magnolia State through all of its trials and triumphs, bringing to life the colorful events and personalities that have shaped the life and character of Mississippi. From its exciting past to its vibrant present, this book traces the state’s development from its earliest times, through the expedition of Hernando De Soto, the bloody Civil War, the devastating flood of 1927, through today’s challenges, to form an unequalled portrait. The book features more than 350 photos, drawings, etchings, and paintings collected and captioned by Bolton and Patti Carr Black.

Separate, But Equal: The Mississippi Photographs of Henry Clay Separate but EqualAnderson

By Henry Clay Anderson, with essays by Shawn Wilson, Clifton L. Taulbert, and Mary Panzer

PublicAffairs (Hardcover, $35.00, ISBN: 1586480928)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

“I received my first camera when I was about nine years old,” Anderson writes in one of the five essays accompanying this collection of his work. “I tried to catch pictures of people, cats, trees, houses, whatever was interesting to me as a little boy.” After studying photography on the GI Bill, Anderson opened a studio in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1948. This slim volume presents 130 or so straightforward but affecting photos of a conservative, respectable, and separate African-American world during the Jim Crow years. Anderson documents children in their Sunday best, a postman, a majorette, a white-frocked girl posing next to a birthday cake with six candles, teenaged bathing beauties parading in front of a crowd, a group shot of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels (“The Greatest Colored Show on Earth”) and weddings and funerals. The pictures show a way of life that, for obvious reasons, will not inspire nostalgia, but which certainly had its share of dignity and beauty. And to young would-be photographers, Anderson advised: “Try to show not the picture only, but show the person who had the ambition. And if he’s showing it, he shows himself.” —Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The 16th Mississippi InfantryThe 16th Mississippi Infantry: Civil War Letters and Reminiscences

Edited by Robert G. Evans

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $40.00, ISBN: 1578064864)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from the publisher:

Words and memories of Mississippi men who fought the major campaigns of the Civil War.

They fought in the Shenandoah campaign that blazed Stonewall Jackson’s reputation. They fought in the Seven Days’ Battles and at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, in the Wilderness campaign, and at Spotsylvania. At the surrender they were beside General Robert E. Lee in Appomattox. From the beginning of the war to its very end the men of the Sixteenth Mississippi endured.

In this collection of their letters and their memories, both historians and Civil War buffs will find the fascinating words of these common soldiers in one of the most notable units in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Gathered and available here for the first time, the writings in this anthology include diary entries, letters, and reminiscences from average Mississippi men who fought in the war’s most extraordinary battles. Chronologically arranged, the documents depict the pace and progress of the war. Emerging from their words are flesh-and-blood soldiers who share their courage and spirit, their love of home and family, and their loneliness, fears, and campaign trials.

From the same camp come letters that say, “Our troops are crazy to meet” the enemy and, “It is not much fun hearing the balls and shells a-coming.” Soldiers write endearingly to wives, earnestly to fathers, longingly to mothers, and wistfully to loved ones. With wit and dispatch they report on crops and land, Virginia hospitality, camp rumors and chicanery, and encounters, both humorous and hostile, with the Yankee enemy.

Many letters convey a yearning for home and loved ones, closing with such phrases as “Write just as soon as you get this.” Though the trials of war seemed beyond the limits of human endurance, letter writing created a lifeline to home and helped men persevere. So eager was Jesse Ruebel Kirkland to keep in touch with his beloved Lucinda that he penned, “I am on my horse writing on the top of my hat just having met the mail carrier.”

Robert G. Evans is a judge of the Thirteenth Circuit Court of the State of Mississippi. He lives in Raleigh, Mississippi.

Lost Landmarks of MississippiLost Landmarks of Mississippi

By Mary Carol Miller

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $35.00, ISBN: 1578064759)

Publication date: November 2002

Description from the publisher:

A guide to historic buildings lost to neglect, flames, “progress,” and bulldozers.

Mississippi’s architectural heritage is one of columns and capitals, most readily envisioned in the great mansions of Natchez and Columbus. But for every Stanton Hall or Waverly, there was an equally memorable structure built for law, worship, or education.

Antebellum Mississippians expressed their pride in their state and communities by erecting elegant Greek Revival schools and churches that rivaled those in Charleston and Boston. Even the darker side of life brought out the creativity of the state’s architects and carpenters, shown in the grim visage of the old State Penitentiary and the graceful lines of the Insane Asylum.

As with the mansions of the Cotton Kingdom, many of Mississippi’s landmark buildings have been lost over the years, victims of war, fire, neglect, or decay. Sprawling Gulf Coast hotels rose, prospered, and disappeared. Spas overflowed for decades with revelers, then vanished as their “healing waters” lost their cachet. Huge college buildings were pressed into service as Civil War hospitals, and several were destroyed in the process. Courthouses, the visible symbol of legitimacy for so many young towns, often suffered the same fate. Those landmark structures that survived the war were gradually replaced with more modern edifices, and economic shifts doomed factories, hotels, and even colleges.

Lost Landmarks of Mississippi reviews dozens of these forgotten buildings, capturing their beauty in rare black-and-white photographs and telling the stories of their place in Mississippi history.

Mary Carol Miller is the author of Lost Mansions of Mississippi (University Press of Mississippi) and Written in the Bricks. She lives in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The Undiscovered Country: The Later Plays of Tennessee Williams

Edited by Philip C. Kolin

Peter Lang (Hardcover, $32.95, ISBN: 0820451304)

Publication date: November 2002

Description:

Tennessee Williams’s foray into “dragon country with some new dramatic armor” during the fading decades of his career may have displeased some fans, but many scholars believe the playwright's later works contributed mightily to the American theatre.

The Undiscovered Country: The Later Plays of Tennessee Williams is a collection of 15 original essays by Dr. Philip C. Kolin, professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, and 14 other Williams scholars. The book—published by the international house of Peter Lang in New York, Berlin and Bern, Switzerland—is the first book exclusively devoted to Williams’s plays written and produced after Night of the Iguana, from 1961 to his death in 1983. It argues that Williams was a rarely gifted experimental artist at work and that his later plays are vital to the American theatre, although they radically depart from his earlier works of psychological realism.

“Williams was not simply static, not just recreating earlier successes or repeating them,” said Kolin, a Chicago native who has been a member of the Southern Miss faculty for 29 years. “He wanted to enter what he called ‘dragon country’with new dramatic armor. His later plays are very, very different in the way they represent or misrepresent reality. They are not as familiar (as his earlier works) but that doesn’t mean they are inferior.… But some people attacked him for being a different playwright, for attempting new dramatic forms. They wanted him to remain with the same type of realism that characterized his Broadway successes in the 1940s and ’50s.”

Rather than focusing on his earlier, more popular works such as The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire and Night of the Iguana, essays in Kolin’s book address Williams’s later plays, which include Seven Descents of Myrtle, Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, Small Craft Warnings, Red Devil Battery Sign, Clothes for a Summer Hotel, and the first essay written on Williams’s still unpublished play, A House Not Meant to Stand.

“With the exception of Small Craft Warnings, most of the later plays had very limited or no Broadway runs,” said Kolin. “This book is the first one to look at Williams’s accomplishments apart from simple autobiographical readings and judges the plays on their own merits.… Some represented the theatre of the absurd, some were post-modern memory plays, some were theological inquiries, and some focused on Williams and contemporary art.”

The professor said Williams, a native of Columbus, Miss., was a prolific writer who penned more than 80 full-length plays during his lifetime, most of them written from 1961-1983. He acted in one of his plays only once, playing the role of the drunken “Doc” in Small Craft Warnings. A photo of Williams in that role graces the front cover of Undiscovered Country.

“I think he wanted to become one with his script,” Kolin said of Williams’s lone venture onto the stage.

Other contributors to the book include Annette J. Saddik, Michael Paller, Allean Hale, Una Chaudhuri, Gene D. Phillips, Terri Smith Ruckel, Felicia Hardison Londré, Robert F. Gross, Robert Bray, Verna Foster, George W. Crandell, Norma Jenckes, James Fisher and Thomas Keith.

A widely respected authority on Williams’s plays, Kolin has published four other books on the playwright. He also has published more than 20 books and 180 articles on Shakespeare, Edward Albee, David Rabe, contemporary American theatre history, and business and technical writing. He is the general editor for the Routledge Shakespeare Criticism series and is founding co-editor of Studies in American Drama, 1945-Present.



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