Spring Books Rec­om­men­da­tions Take The Stage

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - OPINION - May­lon Rice Po­lit­i­cally Lo­cal

While state Leg­is­la­tors swoon over tax-ex­emp­tions, Gov. Asa Hutchin­son comes on TV with strong red mantra mes­sages and the never-end­ing trail of ethics has read­ers mes­mer­ized with how cash flows in and out of folks’ pock­ets — I’ll turn to spring books.

For a much-needed break from po­lit­i­cal scat­ter-shoot­ing this week, let’s see what is on the lit­er­ary scene in our state.

Pol­i­tics, as usual, will re­turn next week.

First out of the gate the highly con­tro­ver­sial, yet vi­tal Bul­lets and Fire: Lynch­ing and Author­ity in Arkansas: 1840-1950, by Guy Lan­caster, has just won the cov­eted Graves Book Award from the Arkansas His­tor­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion. The UA Press book has been said to be a “must” read for stu­dents of the state’s his­tory. Although a “dark” chap­ter in the state’s his­tory, the book sets in con­text much of the state in the pre-, post-, and de­vel­op­ing decades of the Civil War and pre-Civil Rights strug­gles.

A new book, out this next month from the But­ler Cen­ter Books in Lit­tle Rock, is a col­lec­tion, edited by Lan­caster, The Elaine Mas­sacre and Arkansas: A Cen­tury of Atroc­ity and Re­sis­tance, 1819-1919. Sev­eral noted Arkansas schol­ars are con­tribut­ing to this work, in­clud­ing Richard Buck­elew of Bethune-Cook­man; Kelly Hus­ton Jones of Austin Peay State Univer­sity; Cherisse Jones-Branch of Arkansas State Univer­sity and others. It looks like a real be­hindthe-scene look, fi­nally, of the aw­ful events in that im­pov­er­ished area of our state.

On to eas­ier top­ics to en­joy and di­gest, the UA Press has rolled out a Johnny Cash epic en­ti­tled, The Man In Song: A Disco­graphic Bi­og­ra­phy of Johnny Cash, out this month. The 296-page book with 47 rarely seen images of the iconic Coun­try crooner, by John M. Alexan­der, looks to be very, very in­ter­est­ing.

One quirky, but very de­light­ful book for those in love with the kitchen is a UA Press of­fer­ing: Aunt Sammy’s Ra­dio Recipes: The Orig­i­nal 1927 Cook­book and House­hold Chat.

This was an early ef­fort of the fledg­ling U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and its Bureau of Home Eco­nom­ics, to bring mod­ern cook­ing tech­niques and recipes to ru­ral Amer­ica. The na­tion was com­ing out of World War I and home cook stoves were quickly be­ing trans­formed from wood burn­ing to gas or elec­tri­cal — and the recipes within, while Spar­tan at best, are in­trigu­ing. This is one of the two books this sea­son from the Food and Food­ways se­lec­tions from the UA Press.

The other Food and Food­ways se­lec­tion, fo­cuses on Asian cook­ing, which is very in­trigu­ing. The book, Chop Suey and Sushi from Sea to Shin­ing Sea, is a de­light. A trio of fine chefs, his­to­ri­ans and writ­ers, com­bine for a 320 page col­lec­tion worth read­ing.

For those lov­ing the Civil War, there is a new col­lec­tion from Mark Christ, the noted Arkansas ex­pert on the War Be­tween the States in the Nat­u­ral State. Christ’s lat­est book, A Con­fused and Con­fus­ing Affair: Arkansas and Re­con­struc­tion, is a re­view­ing of the state — af­ter the war. Sev­eral noted Arkansans help out in the col­lec­tion of es­says. Among the col­lec­tion can be found Jay Barth of Hen­drix; Thomas DeBlack of Arkansas Tech; and Blake Win­tory of the Lake­port Plan­ta­tion ASU project in South­east Arkansas.

For yes­ter­year fans, the But­ler Cen­ter for Books has a nice nov­elic of­fer­ing: Spi­der­walk, The High Life and Dar­ing Stunts of a Smal­lTown Girl from Arkansas, by Ann “An­nie” Miles.

This is a book about the pi­o­neer­ing spirit of small town Amer­ica from the 1950s and just the type of book to lose one’s self in on a mild sum­mer day.

As al­ways, I’ll rec­om­mend a mem­ber­ship with four-quar­terly is­sues of the FLASH­BACK from the Wash­ing­ton County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety with mem­ber­ships start­ing at $15 a year for se­niors and $25 for gen­eral mem­ber­ship. Con­tact the WCHS at www.wash­ing­ton coun­ty­his­tor­i­cal­so­ci­ety.org

The Arkansas His­tor­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of­fers a fouris­sue Arkansas His­tor­i­cal Quar­terly for $20 a year. The AHA can be con­tacted atwww. arkansas his­tor­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tion.org.

Books men­tioned here can be found at lo­cal in­de­pen­dent book deal­ers all over the state.

Po­lit­i­cal in­trigue re­turns next week.

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