New books ‘fall’ into season as Labor Day passes
As I am wont to do a couple of times a year, I have laid down the column writing on politics this week, taking up an examination of some exciting local history works and books on the state out just in time for advance holiday shopping.
Most of these books are available at your local independent bookseller, so no matter what city in Northwest Arkansas or in Arkansas you live, you can order these books.
And yes, some are even available at the local branches of the big-box bookstores, where the large repositories of books, gifts, music and such are available. So let us get started.
First up is a wonderful history on the Centennial Celebration of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.
“A Century Forward: The Centennial History of Arkansas Tech University,” by Dr. Thomas DeBlack, PhD., by Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, Mo. is an easy-to-read 336 pages, well worth its $40 tag price.
The book’s 9” x 12” format has 26 pages of color photographs, and all kinds of footnotes and references, available from the Arkansas Tech Alumni Association.
DeBlack, a noted historian, has been a professor of history at Arkansas Tech for the last 30 years. He has a comfortable time reviewing the history of this, one of four Agricultural High Schools, established back in 1909.
In the preface, DeBlack quotes William Faulkner, and boldly proclaims that the institution has not merely survived for the past century but “it (has) prevailed.” Arkansas Tech, from “A Century Forward,” and DeBlack’s examination, has far more than prevailed, but flourished, as witnessed from this noted historian’s writing. He holds a masterful command of the facts and an always evenkeeled presence as an observer in the storytelling of Arkansas Tech’s early days.
Founded as one of Arkansas’ four regional agricultural high schools, the institution now has evolved into a four-year college with an enrollment hovering at 12,000 students each semester.
••• Another fresh book out, “African-American Athletes in Arkansas,” by Evin Demirel, by ED Productions LLC, $24.99, is a 188-page paperback filled with various reprinted essays from assorted websites, newsletters and blogs. The book is filled with vintage photos from all over Arkansas worth seeing.
The essays in the book do have a historical bent to them, with the underlying theme of some of the best Arkansas schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of yesteryear who are all but forgotten — and need to be recognized and remembered.
There are big holes in the book, such as no mention of the Jones family of basketball greats from the tiny hamlet of Kelso/ Rohwer in southeast Arkansas. That family (at least four members) played in the NBA and set some college marks that still stand today.
But the book is worth reading and it’s worth pondering the essays on this long-overlooked part of the state’s history.
A very special book for Fayetteville and all of Northwest Arkansas is the gigantic volume, “The Square Book: An Illustrated History of the Fayetteville Square,” 1828-2016, by Jerry Hogan and Anthony J. Wappel, a 248-page book self-published by the authors.
The history of the business district reflects the growth and ever-changing climate of commerce, law and history in northwest Arkansas.
It is a real delight to those who have lived, worked and shopped in Fayetteville over the years.
As usual, I will promote the Arkansas Historical Association and its $20 annual membership and the Washington County Historical Society for it $25 membership ($15 for senior citizens). Both groups have wonderful quarterly publications filled with history for those who love to read historical items of yesteryear.
Next week, it is back to politics. — Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.