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E&H Bookblog

Reviews: VOTE FOR US by Joshua A. Douglas

Easty Lambert-Brown

Cogent, well-written, and filled with inspiring stories, Vote for US should be required reading for those who feel that our democracy is broken. With this book, Joshua A. Douglas takes his place at the forefront of a growing intellectual effort to chronicle and strengthen the emerging nonpartisan Democracy Movement sweeping across the United States. Change is possible, and, as Douglas powerfully proves, it is already on its way." 

--Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen, authors of Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want

"It is easy to find books that recount the numerous ways the United States election system fails, but it is far harder to find thoughtfully considered blueprints for success. In Vote for US, Joshua A. Douglas pairs expertly interpreted explanations of our voting system with compelling stories of those fighting to make it better. This book is sure to become an invaluable tool for anyone who cares about the progress of American democracy." 

--Jessica Huseman, reporter, ProPublica 

Vote for US is the rare book that shows how we will actually fix America's political crisis. It reveals that vexing political gridlock, partisanship, extremism, and corruption are caused by broken election, campaign-finance, and ethics laws. It highlights the unprecedented and fantastically inspiring stories of state and local reformers who are fixing those laws, right now, at unprecedented levels across our nation. And it shows how we are following the footsteps of suffragettes and marriage-equality advocates to fix our political crisis--from the cities and states all the way to Washington, DC. This book is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to stop spinning their wheels and actually fix the dystopia that grips American politics." 

--Josh Silver, cofounder and director, RepresentUs 

Douglas is one of the most important voting-rights experts in the country today. In Vote for US he deftly chronicles how we can make it easier for every American to vote. An inspiring, innovative, and must-read book about how to take back our democracy.

--Ari Berman, senior reporter at Mother Jones and author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

"Douglas's ability to tell the stories of real Americans working to improve our electoral process paints a hopeful picture of our democracy. This inspiring book will leave readers optimistic about the strength of our country and the values for which it stands." 

--Chris Carson, president, League of Women Voters of the United States 

"This book is a true Profiles in Courage of real-life democracy champions: ordinary citizens who worked in extraordinary ways to improve elections in their communities. It is required reading for anyone seeking to do their part to ensure our country fulfills its constitutional promise of one person, one vote." 

--Jocelyn Benson, secretary of state of Michigan 

"Voter suppression gets the headlines. But in the last few years, the vibrant, pro-voter Democracy Movement has quietly emerged to make our elections fairer and more accessible. By telling the inspiring stories of the ordinary people behind that movement, Joshua A. Douglas shows how a democracy that truly represents all of us isn't just possible--it's already taking shape." 

--Zachary Roth, author of The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy

"Participation in American elections is shamefully low, and it's time we did something about it. Douglas tells the stories of Americans who fought to take back their voting rights--and ours." 

--Benjamin Ginsberg, David Bernstein Professor of Political Science and Chair of Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University and coauthor of What Washington Gets Wrong

"From the disenfranchisement faced by people with criminal histories to extreme partisan gerrymandering, polling-site accessibility, and strict voter-ID laws, Vote for US provides a breathtakingly comprehensive overview of some of the obstacles we face in our democracy today. The possibilities for reform at the state level are also explored, leaving readers with plenty of reason to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. For those seeking to understand the modern-day challenges and voter-suppression efforts we are wrestling, this book is a must-read." 

--Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law 

"Douglas tells the vitally important but largely overlooked story of how grassroots activists, state and local politicians, and everyday Americans have played an important role in the adoption of positive voting reforms in this country. He shows how reforms such as automatic voter registration, felon re-enfranchisement, and vote-by-mail, among other proposals, have radically changed turnout and participation in some jurisdictions. He uses the debates over voter participation and election administration to persuasively show that broad societal change often has humble beginnings and can emerge from unexpected corners. The book is a must-read for everyone seeking to make our democracy more inclusive and dynamic than ever before." 

--Franita Tolson, voting-rights expert and professor of law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law 

"This engaging and highly readable book by election-law expert Douglas is a compelling and important contribution to our conversation about how to improve elections. Rather than simply making a case for each reform, Douglas demonstrates how individual Americans are making a difference with their own advocacy, which not only helps this book stand out but also likely inspires readers to engage in their own reform efforts." 

--Trey Grayson, Republican secretary of state of Kentucky (2004-2011) and member of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration 

"Offers an inspiring collection of stories that spotlight individuals and organizations doing the hard, grassroots work of improving our democracy. In order for our political system to work better for everyone, both significant structural reforms and sustained citizen engagement will be essential. This book illustrates how that is already happening in many states and cities across the country, and it provides important models for political reformers working at all levels of government." 

--Trevor Potter, lawyer for Colbert PAC, president of Campaign Legal Center, and former commissioner and chair of the Federal Election Commission 

"This is an unmatched text that takes a deep and engaging look at innovative efforts across the country to improve all aspects of the voting process. The book examines many different approaches that states, localities, and individuals are taking to bolster our democracy by making voting more accessible and secure. These inspirational accounts show how feasible changes to our election systems can heighten civic participation and citizens' trust that their most fundamental civic right, voting, is protected." 

--Jennifer Bachner, PhD, director of the Master of Science in Government Analytics, Johns Hopkins University, and coauthor of What Washington Gets Wrong

"Douglas has established himself as one of our sharpest and most important thinkers about election law and democracy. This must-read not only makes it clear that better democracy is possible but also lays out a well-defined path to getting there. We all know what's gone wrong. Douglas knows how to fix it." 

--David Daley, author of Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn't Count and Unrigged: How Americans Fought Back, Slayed the Gerrymander, and Reinvented Democracy

Reviews: When You Learn the Alphabet by Kendra Allen

Easty Lambert-Brown

KIRKUS REVIEW

Winner of the 2018 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction, a slender book that moves across genres—blended poetry and prose, memoir, journal, academic and personal essay—to speak of life as a young African-American woman.

“People who love me but not my skin tell me at least I’m a pretty dark-skinned girl, an insult as salutation,” Allen writes of the layers of her experience and the larger African-American experience, from surface appearances (“they do not see caramel, yella bones, creole, good hair, bad hair….They don’t see chocolate, bleaching creams, sunscreens, brown skin, light skin, they just see African”) to family dynamics to the power of words. A standout piece on the last matter is her essay “How to Workshop N-Words,” which should be required reading for writing instructors everywhere: She writes of the self-satisfaction of nonblack professors assigning texts by black writers who “taught them something about their whiteness” and the inevitable moment in which the N-word arises. “It just doesn’t sound good,” she writes. Collective conditioning, collective guilt, respectability politics, institutional racism: Though only 10 pages long, the essay packs a lot of punch into a short space, and with luck it will produce at least some of the desired effect of lessening the use of a word that, Allen writes, produces “an instantly unstable, volatile feeling.” The author turns the lens on herself when examining the fraught place of gayness in the African-American community, confessing to comfortable accession to “straight privilege” and challenging those who “have used God as a rationalization for their made up minds all their lives.” Some of the pieces are less consequential, among them a notebook-ish account of a visit to Paris, but most are memorable indeed: “We all stay broken," she writes in one essay, “and are all good at breaking.”

A promising debut from a writer with much to say.

Pub Date: April 15th, 2019

Publisher: Univ. of Iowa

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17th, 2019,

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2019

OTHER REVIEWS

“Kendra Allen’s When You Learn the Alphabet is a roaring meditation on what black daughters in our nation do with what and how they’ve been taught. The book brilliantly animates the formal and informal education processes of becoming grown in America. Allen somehow manages to make explorations of colorism, language, trauma, war, and love sit comfortably next to one another. Allen’s book is an ambitious, dexterous collection that really obliterates convenient understandings of the sentimental in favor of dynamic, fleshy layers of soulful sincerity. It is a remarkable artistic achievement.” — Kiese Laymon, judge, Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction, author, Heavy: An American Memoir 

“Kendra Allen will not, as she writes, make anyone feel good at her own expense. Nor will she let herself be comforted at the expense of others. Instead, she brilliantly writes her tender origins into history, creating for future readers a complex sense of self-recognition missing from her own past.” — Hali Felt, University of Alabama 

“Every generation has its seer, a writer of radical, fierce talent who tells it true, who writes the being and identity like a punch in the gut. Kendra Allen is this generation’s sharpshooter. To think: this is her first book. We are witnessing the birth of this astonishing star.” — Jenny Boully, author, Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life  

The Graceland Conspiracy • Philip Shirley

Easty Lambert-Brown

The Graceland Conspiracy delivers a coming-of-age (late) story wrapped in a crime thriller. Young Matt Boykin, 27, becomes caught in a government conspiracy where no price is too great to stop the release of information on a 22-year-old crime that could bring down many powerful government figures.

Matt pairs up with his girlfriend Kristine, and when she is put into danger, they flee to Mexico, then to Belgium, and finally to Venice where the couple is tracked down by American government agents.

An Italian professor helps them escape harm and takes them deep into hiding where they continue to search for a way to reveal the truth about what really happened to America's most beloved entertainer and to regain control of their lives ... not realizing that the enemy is among them.

REVIEWS

"Philip Shirley's latest page-turner is preposterously entertaining...and Hollywood-ready. From Texas pool halls to Alabama hide-outs to Mexico, Munich, and Venice, this couple-on-the-run tale of government heavies and Elvis intrigues takes more turns than a Hound Dog 45 rpm from 1956. You'll be tempted to pick up the phone and spoil the last-page surprise for your reading pals...but don't be cruel." - Charles McNair, author of The Epicureans


"Prodigal son meets government deception meets murder mystery in Philip Shirley's latest. Chock full of dead bodies, men in suits, and a grainy film that just might lead to one of the biggest conspiracies of a generation, The Graceland Conspiracy is crazy good fun, a pacey, globe-trotting thriller with a Southern twist." - Michelle Richmond, New York Times Bestselling author of The Marriage Pact


"Elvis has left the building...or not. Philip Shirley's Graceland Conspiracy is a genre-busting novel full of unexpected twists, tension, and fascinating characters." - Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times Bestselling author of Robert B. Parker's Colorblind


"Philip Shirley is a terrific writer, better with each new book." - Tom Franklin, New York Times Bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

"An ingenious mystery...fans of thrillers and Elvis alike can have reason to believe their expectations will be well-received in The Graceland Conspiracy." - Kirk Curnutt, award-winning author of Raising Aphrodite

Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making • G. Ward Hubbs

Easty Lambert-Brown

A lavishly illustrated history of this distinctive city’s origins as a settlement on the banks of the Black Warrior River to its development into a thriving nexus of higher education, sports, and culture -

In both its subject and its approach, Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making is an account unlike any other of a city unlike any other—storied, inimitable, and thriving. G. Ward Hubbs has written a lively and enlightening bicentennial history of Tuscaloosa that is by turns enthralling, dramatic, disturbing, and uplifting. Far from a traditional chronicle listing one event after another, the narrative focuses instead on six key turning points that dramatically altered the fabric of the city over the past two centuries.
 
The selection of this frontier village as the state capital gave rise to a building boom, some extraordinary architecture, and the founding of The University of Alabama. The state’s secession in 1861 brought on a devastating war and the burning of the university by Union cavalry; decades of social adjustments followed, ultimately leading to legalized racial segregation. Meanwhile, town boosters set out to lure various industries, but with varying success.
 
The decision to adopt new inventions, ranging from electricity to telephones to automobiles, revolutionized the daily lives of Tuscaloosans in only a few short decades. Beginning with radio, and followed by the Second World War and television, the formerly isolated townspeople discovered an entirely different world that would culminate in Mercedes-Benz building its first overseas production plant nearby. At the same time, the world would watch as Tuscaloosa became the center of some pivotal moments in the civil rights movement—and great moments in college football as well.
 
An impressive amount of research is collected in this accessibly written history of the city and its evolution. Tuscaloosa is a versatile history that will be of interest to a general readership, for scholars to use as a starting point for further research, and for city and county school students to better understand their home locale.


About the Author

G. Ward Hubbs, professor emeritus at Birmingham-Southern College, is grateful to call Tuscaloosa home. He is the editor of Rowdy Tales from Early Alabama: The Humor of John Gorman Barr and author of Guarding Greensboro: A Confederate Company in the Making of a Southern Community and Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman.


Reviews

Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making by G. Ward Hubbs reads like a fascinating work of fiction with twisting plots and memorable characters, but the reality is that it is the true story of the town we have grown to love and call our home. From its selection as the state capital through the tenure of interesting  political, educational, and sports figures, and the survival of this strong community rising out of the ashes of the devastating tornado, the story of Tuscaloosa deserves to be told.”
—Terry Saban, cofounder with Nick Saban of Nick’s Kids Foundation

“Tuscaloosa has traveled a long, arduous, and storied road in its 200 years of existence. Guy Hubbs’ well-researched and well-written account of our great city’s history sheds a light on our many challenges and opportunities. From a frontier village to our state’s capital, from a city stifled and insulated to the inclusive, economic powerhouse it is today, we have come a long way in our growth, character, and prospects for the future. Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making is a testament to a city of remarkable history and strength.”
—Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa


“Reflecting individual effort, collective vision, and all the compromises in between, Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making details an impressive array of geographical, historical, and political convergences that created what the city is today. Hubbs is meticulous in researching and synthesizing materials about the history of Tuscaloosa. His efforts have resulted in a rich and concise volume that is an informative and emotionally engaging monument to a city that, when set back, repeatedly re-imagined its future and ultimately succeeded in turning vision into reality. Tuscaloosa is a fitting two hundredth birthday gift to a city that continues to showcase the best of its past as it charts an energetic and ever-evolving course to the future.”
—Trudier Harris, Tuscaloosan and University Distinguished Research Professor, Department of English, the University of Alabama as well as author of Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South

Reviews: Thank Your Lucky Stars by Sherrie Flick

Easty Lambert-Brown

"In Thank Your Lucky Stars, Flick has arranged 50 stories of varying length—the shortest a paragraph, the longest 21 pages—into four numbered sections. The settings are often suburban towns in the West or Midwest, and Flick uses crickets, birdbaths with calm water, and deer heads as recurrent images throughout to underscore the agonizing quiet of such towns. Most of the stories are about love, but more specifically, finding someone to make a home with. Domestic spaces are the stage, and everyday objects, like two tin coffee cups, resonate with meaning." http://www.smokelong.com/book-review-thank-your-lucky-stars-by-sherrie-flick/—Cheryl Pappas, SmokeLong Quarterly

"These stories target a range of ages with something in each that many people have faced at one point or another. There’s a little something unexpected in each of Flick’s stories that remind us to 'Thank [Our] Lucky Stars' for the good present in any situation." https://medium.com/anomalyblog/sherrie-flicks-thank-your-lucky-stars-for-more-hope-d93f97747f8a—Cheyenne Heckermann, Anomaly

"Many of the stories are character-driven instead of action-driven. These aren’t stories about world-changing events, but more about individual people coming to a self-realization. The interesting concept with these stories is that these acts of self-reflection feel just as important as the high-tension dramatic events seen in other popular novels and movies." https://medium.com/the-coil/book-review-sherrie-flick-thank-your-lucky-stars-sean-faulk-61037c693888—Sean Faulk, The Coil

Review: The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch

Easty Lambert-Brown

Reviewed by Jim Ezell*, January 30, 2019

Victorian London in 1853 was the world’s largest city. Its denizens represented a cross-section of society spanning the extreme limits of existence from that of the lowest prostitute and beggar to the queen (and later empress) of much of the world. In this prequel, author Charles Finch has again immersed his amateur detective Charles Lenox into this cauldron of humanity.

Although a commoner, Lenox is well-educated, financially independent, and well-connected socially. His milieu is a comfortable mix of all classes. He is as comfortable drinking tea with a duchess as he is having a pint of bitters with his coachman at a pub.

As this latest prequel of the Charles Lenox series unfolds, he is summoned to the palatial residence of the Duke of Dorset, perhaps the fourth highest personage of the realm. Apparently a burglar has taken a painting of one of the Duke’s ancestors. However, the thief overlooked an immensely valuable portrait that hung next to the purloined painting—the only known portrait from life of William Shakespeare. Lenox is duly commissioned to investigate.

Events unfold quickly. Dorset is kidnapped and returns unharmed. Then a shocking murder occurs in the Duke’s household and the mystery deepens. Lenox subsequently unearths clues that the stolen painting, by itself unremarkable and of little value, is the key to a greater treasure—a treasure whose worth is beyond comprehension.

The Vanishing Man is fast-paced and the writing crisp. A reader can almost smell the streets of London and hear the clatter of hooves and wheels and the shouts of drivers and street vendors.  Finch also adds fascinating and succinct details of the English language and the hierarchical structure of the British nobility. Charles Finch is at the height of his powers and his latest offering is one of his finest works to date.

*Check out James N. Ezell’s The Cistern, available in-store or online at Ernest & Hadley Booksellers!

Romantic Cocktails • Clair McLafferty

Easty Lambert-Brown

Romantic Cocktails is a bewitching collection of 75+ craft cocktail recipes--plus easy recipes for homemade ingredients and bar snacks!--perfect for winning hearts and mending broken ones, too! The history and lore of aphrodisiacs makes for a culinary book that's a both a fascinating read and an indispensable go-to guide for romantic cocktail mixology!! 

No romantic evening is complete without a couple glasses of wine, dry martinis, or some margaritas. Enjoying some libations with your loved one is a great pleasure of life and often serves as a precursor to more . . . intimate activities. But what if we told you that you were doing it all wrong? What if we told you that there was a better way to drink, a romantic way to drink? Well it turns out, there is. With Romantic Cocktails you and your loved one can enjoy exquisitely crafted concoctions specifically designed to get the romance flowing! 

Organized by type of liquor (pick your poison), Romantic Cocktails features 75+ recipes for craft cocktails that are chock-full of potent aphrodisiacs such as ginger, chocolate, honey, ginseng, saffron, hot chilies, figs, coffee, pomegranates, vanilla, cinnamon, and so many more. Discover all the magical effects of aphrodisiac ingredients and how to get the most out of them. 

Alongside each recipe, you will find tips and tricks for crafting sophisticated drinks, infusions, and bar snacks made with aphrodisiac ingredients. Delve into the fascinating science and rich history behind their legendary properties. Plus, you'll find ideas for garnishes and glassware that make every drink's presentation truly swoon-worthy. 

This cocktail book is the new go-to mixology guide for new loves, secret crushes, newlyweds, and the newly single (and ready to mingle)! Simple step-by-step instructions and gorgeous full-color photography will ensure that you execute these recipes to absolute perfection. Impress your partner with your behind-the-bar abilities, then let the cocktails do the rest. 

Whalen Book Works is an independent book publishing company that combines top-notch design, unique formats, and fresh content to create truly innovative gift books. We bring together a talented team of writers, designers, illustrators, and artists in order to develop strong editorial content that brings a book to life!

Biographical Note:

Clair McLafferty is a craft bartender and writer operating out of Birmingham, Alabama. In 2013, she quit her office job to learn the art of craft bartending. Making drinks led to researching and writing about them, and her current occupation was born. Her website, See Clair Write, is a chronicle of everything cocktail-related, which includes most aspects of her life.

The Battles and Campaigns of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 1861-1865 • John R. Scales

Easty Lambert-Brown

The Tennessean was one of the most intriguing and controversial characters to emerge during the Civil War. Books and articles on the man span the gamut from hero worship because of his remarkable battlefield victories, to condemnation for his involvement with the slaughter at Fort Pillow and later, his association with the Ku Klux Klan. Retired Special Forces brigadier general John R. Scales plows entirely new ground with The Battles and Campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 1861–1865, a careful and unique examination of Forrest’s wartime activities and how his actions affected the war in the Western Theater.

Each chapter covers specific raids or campaigns, all arranged chronologically. After describing the environment within which Forrest operated, which helps readers understand the larger situation within which his movements were made and his battles were fought, Gen. Scales narrates the decisions Forrest and his opponents made and the actions they took. Firsthand sources, including heavy use of documents and reports from the Official Records, coupled with 109 original maps, make it easy to understand the often complex background, movements, and engagements involving Forrest and his command.

Scales’ study is also a meticulous guide to Forrest’s campaigns. For example, each action is augmented with detailed driving directions to allow readers to examine his battlefields and the routes his cavalry took during its famous raids. For the first time, students of Forrest’s campaigns can follow in his footsteps, experiencing the terrain much the same way he did. A detailed review and assessment of each raid or campaign follows the description of the actions and the associated driving instructions. Throughout, General Scales relies upon his own extensive military background to help evaluate and explain how and why Forrest grew in command ability and potential as a result of his experiences—or didn’t.

The late award-winning author Albert Castel asked two major questions about Nathan Bedford Forrest: “Exactly what impact did Forrest’s dazzling raids and victories have upon the overall course of the war?” and “Had Forrest been given a higher command and/or greater opportunities, what would have been the potential outcome as regards the fate of the Confederacy?” The Battles and Campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest makes it much easier to answer both.

Reviews
“Firsthand sources, including heavy use of documents and reports from the Official Records, coupled with 109 original maps, make it easy to understand the often complex background, movements, and engagements involving Forrest and his command. An impressively detailed work of outstanding scholarship, The Battles and Campaigns of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 1861-1865 is an invaluable contribution to the growing library of Civil War literature & history.” – Midwest Book Review

“The main elements of the book—its details, the author’s judgments, the outstanding travel guide, and the numerous organizational charts—make it a welcome study. If a reader chooses to follow in Forrest’s footsteps, this book is a required companion.” – Civil War News

“Students of Nathan Bedford Forrest have long sought to understand his campaigns and tactics, beyond the self-assessment that he ‘got there first with the most men.’ Now, John Scales takes the reader where Forrest and his men rode and fought, in meticulous detail, and with an eye to understanding why the engagements occurred where and when they did. Following the ‘Wizard of the Saddle’ has never been more meaningful.” (Brian Steel Willshistorian and author of The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman and The River was Dyed with Blood)

“Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most remarkable soldiers to emerge from the Civil War. Controversial in his time and afterward, Forrest has been the subject of numerous biographies that usually focused on the man and what made him tick. Brig. Gen. (Ret.) John Scales’ much-needed and long overdue The Battles and Campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 1861-1865 is a wholly different type of study. General Scales relies upon his decades of professional service to analyze the military aspects of the cavalryman’s Civil War career―why he did what he did, and whether it was effective. In addition, this new work includes more than 100 original maps with driving directions so anyone can follow the movements and campaigns of this amazing Confederate general. Scales’ effort adds tremendously to our knowledge of both Forrest and the Civil War in the Western Theater. I highly recommend it.” (Greg Biggs, President, Clarksville, TN Civil War Roundtable)

“The Battles and Campaigns of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 1861-1865 is a uniquely strong combination of narrative history, atlas, and tour guide. Anyone interested in western theater cavalry operations, and those of General Forrest in particular (of course), will benefit from reading this authoritative, and sometimes controversial, assessment of the fighting career of a general that many still consider the Civil War's greatest untutored military genius.” (Civil War Books and Authors)

The Million-Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President • Christopher L. McIlwain, Sr.

Easty Lambert-Brown

George Washington Gayle is not a name known to history. But it soon will be.

Forget what you thought you knew about why Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. No, it was not mere sectional hatred, Booth’s desire to become famous, Lincoln’s advocacy of black suffrage, or a plot masterminded by Jefferson Davis to win the war by crippling the Federal government. Christopher Lyle McIlwain, Sr.’s The Million-Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President: George Washington Gayle and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln exposes the fallacies regarding each of those theories and reveals both the mastermind behind the plot, and its true motivation.

The deadly scheme to kill Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward was Gayle’s brainchild. The assassins were motivated by money Gayle raised. Lots of money. $20,000,000 in today’s value.

Gayle, a prominent South Carolina-born Alabama lawyer, had been a Unionist and Jacksonian Democrat before walking the road of radicalization following the admission of California as a free state in 1850. Thereafter, he became Alabama’s most earnest secessionist, though he would never hold any position within the Confederate government or serve in its military. After the slaying of the president, Gayle was arrested and taken to Washington, DC in chains to be tried by a military tribunal for conspiracy in connection with the horrendous crimes.

The Northern press was satisfied Gayle was behind the deed—especially when it was discovered he had placed an advertisement in a newspaper the previous December soliciting donations to pay the assassins. There is little doubt that if Gayle had been tried, he would have been convicted and executed. However, he not only avoided trial, but ultimately escaped punishment of any kind for reasons that will surprise readers.

Rather than rehashing what scores of books have already alleged, The Million-Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President offers a completely fresh premise, meticulous analysis, and stunning conclusions based upon years of firsthand research by an experienced attorney. This original, thought-provoking study will forever change the way you think of Lincoln’s assassination.

 

 Reviews

In his provocative new study, Christopher McIlwain does much more than trace the life of George W. Gayle, a now forgotten fire-eater from Alabama. He presents the case that prosecutors had prepared against Gayle for his ‘important and possibly determinative’ role in the Lincoln assassination—the case that Americans eagerly anticipated until President Andrew Johnson pardoned the so-called ‘Million Dollar Man’ as his trial approached. McIlwain’s case against Gayle, bolstered by scrupulously detailed citations, will need to be addressed in any future accounts of the Lincoln assassination. — G. Ward Hubbs, author of Searching for Freedom: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman

The Million-Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President is uniquely fresh. Meticulously footnoted, the book tells the true story about a relatively unknown Alabama attorney, George Washington Gayle. The big picture events are slavery, the Civil War, and Lincoln’s assassination. The explosive micro event is a newspaper ad that offers big money for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward. Treason, an arrest, a trial date, and a pardon from President Andrew Johnson make this little known story very compelling. — Dan Van Haften and David Hirsch, authors of Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason

 In a fresh examination of the Lincoln assassination, Christopher McIlwain orients the Booth conspiracy around its overlooked, but all important, Alabama connection. According to the author, it was George W. Gayle, a longtime fire-eater from Dallas County, who set the plot in motion by advertising a $1,000,000 bounty on the Union president. Avarice as much as vengeance motivated the men who perpetrated the Civil War’s final, tragic act of violence. In addition to emphasizing Gayle’s central role, McIlwain highlights the relevant activities of two other Alabamians: Lewis Powell, the man Booth tasked with killing Secretary of State William Seward, and Clement C. Clay, a former Confederate senator whom Northerners wrongly believed was somehow involved in the whole enterprise. With clear prose that reflects a thorough sifting of the available evidence, McIlwain has penned a fascinating new study of one of America’s most unforgettable events. — Ben H. Severance, author of Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Alabama in the Civil War

McIlwain’s The Million-Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President enlivens the existing Civil War literature with a wealth of descriptive detail of the privileged firebrands of Confederate Alabama, including its colorful subject, George Washington Gayle, an upper crust Selma lawyer who offered a million-dollar bounty to assassins of Lincoln, Seward, and Vice President Johnson. Extremely well researched and well written, it is a colorful exploration of a uniquely dynamic age in America when governments, laws, and allegiances were fluid and where even the gentleman pillars of society lost their heades in cries for blood. — Larry Tagg, author of The Battles that Made Abraham Lincoln and The Generals of Shiloh

 

Fabricating Difference • Steven W. Ramey (Editor)

Easty Lambert-Brown

The fabrication of groups as different, as other, often has significant consequences, including violence and discrimination. This volume focuses on the discourses that construct Islam in the aftermath of traumatic events and thus illustrates how academic analysis of the fabrication of difference can contribute significantly to public discourse. 

It centers on two critical analyses by accomplished scholars who have written publicly on the constructions of Islam and Muslims as others. Mayanthi Fernando analyzes the rhetoric surrounding French laïcité (often translated as secularism) in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015, highlighting the ways the majority uses the language of laïcité to diminish the presence of minorities. Aaron Hughes analyzes how scholars and others construct Islam in response to acts of violence attributed to people who identify with Islam, thus illustrating how critical academic analysis can contribute to the understanding of both the contestation and ideology behind groups such as ISIS. 

Ten early career scholars apply and extend the questions and approaches of these central essays in short reflections that apply these issues in new ways to other contexts (e.g., India, the United States, early Christianity) and topics (e.g., social issues in politics, religion vs. non-religion, nationalism, scholars in public discourse). The volume concludes with a substantive Afterword that broadens from these specific current events to present an extended analysis of the fabrication of difference and the ways recognizing these processes should influence our scholarship and our engagement with public discourse. 

In addressing the ways people construct difference and the Other, this volume, therefore, provides one answer to the question of the relevance of these fields in a period of both political challenge and internal critique of the assumption of the universality of academic research.

Steven W. Ramey is a Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where he also directs the Asian Studies Program. His specialty is in contemporary issues surrounding identifications in India, which he addresses in his book Hindu, Sufi, or Sikh (Palgrave 2008), where he analyzes specifically the practices and contested definitions of communities identified as Sindhi Hindus. He has extended this analysis to reflect on issues in the academic and public discourse surrounding the category religion and issues of identifications in the United States and other contexts.

Also available at Ernest & Hadley Books from the Working with Culture on the Edge series: Fabricating Identities, edited by Russell T. McCutcheon.

The Empress and the Archer • Erich Otto Wildgrube, IV

Easty Lambert-Brown

In Book One of Erich Wildgrube’s The Empress' Quest Series, the land of Velicorte has known peace for more than a hundred years, but with the death of the Emperor that has been thrown into chaos. This story follows the young Empress to be Leeta Shepard, as she and her faithful steed Sampson, attempt to unite the land against the foreign invaders. Along the way she is joined by General SIlas Goldfeather, The Emperor's oldest confidant, and Jeremiah S. Wolfwood, a roguish barkeep. Leeta's only hope, however, lies in the fabled "Archer of Queen City" a hero of legend, prophesied to save her people from their most dreadful foe. Alongside this tale lies that of Henry Ian Daniels a young man from Queen City, Alabama. Along with his best friend Anton, Henry works at the local movie theatre and is training hard for the local archery tournament.

This book is fun. Plain and simple. I read it as quickly as I could and cannot wait for the next volume.

--Jeffrey Allen Scissom II

A fantasy novel is only as good as the variety of characters and locations we visit through the author's words. The Empress and the Archer brings both together in the most engaging way.

--@ScottsNerdMind

Fans of the genre will find The Empress and The Archer familiar enough to get into, and will be rewarded with some unexpected depth. 

--@XannBlack

To Raise Up the Man Farthest Down • Dana R. Chandler & Edith Powell

Easty Lambert-Brown

An important historical account of Tuskegee University’s significant advances in health care, which affected millions of lives worldwide.

Alabama’s celebrated, historically black Tuskegee University is most commonly associated with its founding president, Booker T. Washington, the scientific innovator George Washington Carver, or the renowned Tuskegee Airmen. Although the university’s accomplishments and devotion to social issues are well known, its work in medical research and health care has received little acknowledgment. Tuskegee has been fulfilling Washington’s vision of “healthy minds and bodies” since its inception in 1881. In To Raise Up the Man Farthest Down, Dana R. Chandler and Edith Powell document Tuskegee University’s medical and public health history with rich archival data and never-before-published photographs. Chandler and Powell especially highlight the important but largely unsung role that Tuskegee University researchers played in the eradication of polio, and they add new dimension and context to the fascinating story of the HeLa cell line that has been brought to the public’s attention by popular media.

Tuskegee University was on the forefront in providing local farmers the benefits of agrarian research. The university helped create the massive Agricultural Extension System managed today by land grant universities throughout the United States. Tuskegee established the first baccalaureate nursing program in the state and was also home to Alabama’s first hospital for African Americans. Washington hired Alabama’s first female licensed physician as a resident physician at Tuskegee. Most notably, Tuskegee was the site of a remarkable development in American biochemistry history: its microbiology laboratory was the only one relied upon by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (the organization known today as the March of Dimes) to produce the HeLa cell cultures employed in the national field trials for the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines. Chandler and Powell are also interested in correcting a long-held but false historical perception that Tuskegee University was the location for the shameful and infamous US Public Health Service study of untreated syphilis.

Meticulously researched, this book is filled with previously undocumented information taken directly from the vast Tuskegee University archives. Readers will gain a new appreciation for how Tuskegee’s people and institutions have influenced community health, food science, and national medical life throughout the twentieth century.

Dana R. Chandler is the university archivist and an assistant professor of history at Tuskegee University. He serves on the board of directors of the Epigraphic Society and won the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Performance Award at Tuskegee University for Service, Library Services.
 
Edith Powell is a retired professor in the School of Nursing and Allied Health at Tuskegee University. She is certified in clinical laboratory science and blood banking by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and is a member of the advisory committee for Tuskegee University’s National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care.

“A timely and important historical account of significant advances in health care made at Tuskegee over the span of more than a century. . . . To Raise Up the Man Farthest Down recognizes the tenures of [five] Tuskegee presidents for their efforts to eradicate the racial, social, and cultural obstacles that they faced in their collective quest to maintain fidelity to the mission first espoused by Dr. Washington: high quality educational programs, effective public health policies, and equal opportunity.”
—from the foreword by Linda Kenney Miller

Alabama Founders • Herbert James Lewis

Easty Lambert-Brown

A biographical history of the forefathers who shaped the identity of Alabama politically, legally, economically, militarily, and geographically. 

While much has been written about the significant events in the history of early Alabama, there has been little information available about the people who participated in those events. In Alabama Founders: Fourteen Political and Military Leaders Who Shaped the State Herbert James Lewis provides an important examination of the lives of fourteen political and military leaders. These were the men who opened Alabama for settlement, secured Alabama's status as a territory in 1817 and as a state in 1819, and helped lay the foundation for the political and economic infrastructure of Alabama in its early years as a state. 

While well researched and thorough, this book does not purport to be a definitive history of Alabama's founding. Lewis has instead narrowed his focus to only those he believes to be key figures--in clearing the territory for settlement, serving in the territorial government, working to achieve statehood, playing a key role at the Constitutional Convention of 1819, or being elected to important offices in the first years of statehood. 

The founders who readied the Alabama Territory for statehood include Judge Harry Toulmin, Henry Hitchcock, and Reuben Saffold II. William Wyatt Bibb and his brother Thomas Bibb respectively served as the first two governors of the state, and Charles Tait, known as the "Patron of Alabama," shepherded Alabama's admission bill through the US Senate. Military figures who played roles in surveying and clearing the territory for further settlement and development include General John Coffee, Andrew Jackson's aide and land surveyor, and Samuel Dale, frontiersman and hero of the "Canoe Fight." Those who were instrumental to the outcome of the Constitutional Convention of 1819 and served the state well in its early days include John W. Walker, Clement Comer Clay, Gabriel Moore, Israel Pickens, and William Rufus King.

Herbert James Lewis is retired from the US Department of Justice and currently serves on the board of directors of the Alabama Historical Association. He is the author of Clearing the Thickets: A History of Antebellum Alabama and Lost Capitals of Alabama. He has also published articles in the Alabama Review and Alabama Heritage.

Review Quotes:
"The individuals Lewis discusses here were instrumental in laying a figurative foundation for the development of the state of Alabama. They are therefore people we should know. Alabama Founders is an outstanding introduction to their lives and times and promises to be a valuable reference source for anyone seeking to understand Alabama's beginnings." 
--Mike Bunn, director of operations at Historic Blakeley State Park in Baldwin County, Alabama, author of Civil War Eufaula, and coauthor of Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812

"Territorial and early statehood are topics that have long been neglected in favor of the more popular topics of Native Americans, the Civil War, and civil rights. Alabama Founders fills a need for scholarship that highlights this time period and the personalities who shaped it." 
--Clay Williams, sites administrator for the museums division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and coauthor of Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812

There Must Be A Witness: Stories of Abuse, Advocacy, and the Fight to Put Children First • Sue Bell Cobb

Easty Lambert-Brown

True child advocates are not born, they are forged out of frustration and faith. There Must Be A Witness profiles a group of child advocates in Alabama who have devoted themselves to help children thrive—and by extension, to better meet the needs of their communities. This collection of stories, narrated by Sue Bell Cobb, the state’s first female Chief Justice and a former juvenile court judge, draws back the curtain on what drives such advocates. In the case of Liz Huntley, a prominent Birmingham lawyer, and Roberta Crenshaw, a former prison lay counselor, advocacy grew out of enduring the most horrific abuse. For Jannah Bailey, the director of Child Protect, her calling has always been to stand between children and violence. Cobb’s own life of advocacy stems from what she saw in courtrooms across Alabama. As a jurist she was bound to serve the law, but as an advocate she championed some of the state’s most sweeping child policy reforms in recent decades, including a toe-to-toe fight with back-slapping tobacco company lobbyists. Along the way she was humbled by the inspiring group of child advocates she met digging firebreaks against poverty, child abuse and neglect, inadequate medical care, and shortcomings in education. Collectively, the stories included in this volume call us to stand witness and testify to policymakers on behalf of children—to insist that government be used as a force for good in people’s lives.

Throughout a long and pioneering Alabama judiciary career, Sue Bell Cobb has been an outspoken advocate for children. A former resident of Evergreen, Alabama, she was the first female Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and before that was the first woman elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. Her thirty-year career on the bench began when she was appointed district judge of Conecuh County in 1981. She has devoted herself to juvenile justice, access to justice, public safety, and sentencing reform and has been a public advocate for those issues through appearances on NPR's Fresh Air, Politico, and in the documentary Skewed Justice, and as an International Speaker for the U.S. State Department. Sue Bell Cobb earned history and law degrees with distinction from the University of Alabama. She was a founding member of the Children First Foundation, in addition to her many board memberships which have included the Conference of Chief Justices; Council of State Governments; and Alabama Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and was inducted into the National Voting Rights Women's Hall of Fame. Her awards and honors include Stennis Center for Public Service Pacesetter; Prevent Child Abuse Lifetime Achievement Award; Children's Voice Award; Alabama State Bar Judicial Award of Merit; Outstanding Public Official Award, Alabama Chapter of National Social Worker's Association; Past State Board Chair and Volunteer of the Year, Alabama Division, American Cancer Society. She is married to William J. Cobb. They have three children (Bill, Andy and Caitlin) and three grandchildren (Olivia, Will, and Abigail).

Nick Cenegy is a Texas-based writer. He has graduate degrees in English and journalism and was a Knight Fellow in Community Journalism at the University of Alabama. A former staff writer for the Anniston Star, he now teaches writing at Texas A&M University. He lives in Bryan with his wife, son, dog, and his wife's three cats.

Alabama: The History of a Deep South State, Bicentennial Edition • Rogers, Ward, Atkins & Flynt

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A new and up-to-date edition of Alabama’s history to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.

Alabama: The History of a Deep South State, Bicentennial Edition is a comprehensive narrative account of the state from its earliest days to the present. This edition, updated to celebrate the state’s bicentennial year, offers a detailed survey of the colorful, dramatic, and often controversial turns in Alabama’s evolution. Organized chronologically and divided into three main sections—the first concluding in 1865, the second in 1920, and the third bringing the story to the present—makes clear and interprets the major events that occurred during Alabama’s history within the larger context of the South and the nation.
 
Once the home of aboriginal inhabitants, Alabama was claimed and occupied by a number of European nations prior to becoming a permanent part of the United States in 1819. A cotton and slave state for more than half of the nineteenth century, Alabama seceded in 1861 to join the Confederate States of America, and occupied an uneasy and uncertain place in America’s post-Civil War landscape. Alabama’s role in the twentieth century has been equally tumultuous and dramatic.
 
General readers as well as scholars will welcome this up-to-date and scrupulously researched history of Alabama, which examines such traditional subjects as politics, military history, economics, race, and class. It contains essential accounts devoted to Native Americans, women, and the environment, as well as detailed coverage of health, education, organized labor, civil rights, and the many cultural developments, from literature to sport, that have enriched Alabama’s history. The stories of individual leaders, from politicians to creative artists, are also highlighted. A key facet of this landmark historical narrative is the strong emphasis placed on the common everyday people of Alabama, those who have been rightly described as the “bone and sinew” of the state.

Leah Rawls Atkins served as the founding director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities at Auburn University from 1985 to 1995. Her publications include Developed for the Service of Alabama: The Centennial History of the Alabama Power Company, 1906–2006 and The Building of Brasfield & Gorrie.
 
Wayne Flynt is a distinguished university professor emeritus, Auburn University. He has published fourteen books, including, Poor but Proud: Alabama’s Poor WhitesAlabama BaptistsAlabama in the Twentieth Century; Southern Religion and Christian Diversity in the Twentieth CenturyMockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee; and a memoir, Keeping the Faith: Ordinary People and Extraordinary Lives.
 
William Warren Rogers (1929–2017) spent nearly four decades as professor of history at Florida State University, where his first doctoral student was Wayne Flynt. Rogers authored more than two dozen books about Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, among them The One-Gallused Rebellion Agrarianism in Alabama, 1865–1896, and coauthored, with Robert David Ward, Labor Revolt in Alabama: The Great Strike of 1894August Reckoning: Jack Turner and Racism in Post–Civil War Alabama; and Convicts, Coal, and the Banner Mine Tragedy.
 
Robert David Ward (1929 —2006) spent his teaching career at Georgia Southern University where he served as department chair, founding tennis coach, and a renowned teacher and director of theses.

PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS EDITIONS

“Fresh, compelling, insightful—the authoritative Alabama history for today’s readers and those of the 21st century.”
—Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton, University of Alabama at Birmingham

“This work is authoritative, yet entertaining. Alabamians will not only understand their own rich heritage; they will experience anew the complex forces that have made Alabama what it is today.”
—Kenneth R. Johnston, University of North Alabama

"Alabama history enthusiasts, teachers, and practitioners are encouraged to update their libraries with this new edition."'
Alabama Heritage

A LIFE OF ADVENTURE AND DELIGHT • Akhil Sharma

Easty Lambert-Brown

A Life of Adventure and Delight delivers eight masterful stories from dazzlingly original and critically acclaimed author Akhil Sharma. 

Hailed as a storyteller whose fiction is “a glowing work of art” (Wall Street Journal), Akhil Sharma is possessed of a narrative voice “as hypnotic as those found in the pages of Dostoyevsky” (The Nation). In A Life of Adventure and Delight, Sharma delivers eight masterful stories that focus on Indian protagonists at home and abroad and that plunge the reader into the unpredictable workings of the human heart. A young woman in an arranged marriage awakens one day surprised to find herself in love with her husband. A retired divorcé tries to become the perfect partner by reading women’s magazines. A man’s longstanding contempt for his cousin suddenly shifts inward when he witnesses his cousin caring for a sick woman. Tender and darkly comic, the protagonists in A Life of Adventure and Delight deceive themselves and engage in odd behaviors as they navigate how to be good, how to make meaningful relationships, and the strengths and pitfalls of self-interest. Elegantly written and emotionally immediate, the stories provide an intimate, honest assessment of human relationships between mothers and sons, sons and lovers, and husband and wives from a dazzlingly original, critically acclaimed writer.

Akhil Sharma is the author of Family Life, a New York Times Best Book of the Year and the winner of the International DUBLIN LiteraryAward and the Folio Prize. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Award Stories. A native of Delhi, he lives in New York City and teaches English at Rutgers University-Newark.

“Focusing exclusively on Indian characters, both in Delhi and in the New York metropolitan area, [Sharma] brings a keen cultural awareness to each of these stories.… [A Life of Adventure and Delight is] perceptive, humane, and pointed.” - New York Times Book Review

“[Sharma’s] stories are beautiful, deceptively simple, and potentially dangerous.” - Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer

“What an exciting and original writer this is, and what a knock-out collection.” - David Sedaris, best-selling author of Naked

“These stories have a psychological acuity that redeems their dark worldview.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Those seeking quiet moments of revelation will find them here.” - Publishers Weekly

“A melancholy and at turns tender exploration of the human psyche at its most vulnerable.” - Angel City Review

“If you love short story collections, this one’s for you.… Author Akhil Sharma’s characters aren’t perfect—they wrestle with belonging, tradition, and temptation—but they’re heartbreakingly real and relatable, even at their worst.” - HelloGiggles

“The stories in Akhil Sharma’s A Life of Adventure and Delight sweep across the page like monsoons—filled with energy, chaos, surprise, and rapture, they ravish and transform the very nature of reading.” - Adam Johnson, National Book Award–winning author of Fortune Smiles

TREEBORNE: Caleb Johnson's debut novel

Easty Lambert-Brown

Janie Treeborne lives on an orchard at the edge of Elberta, Alabama, and in time, she has become its keeper. A place where conquistadors once walked, and where the peaches they left behind now grow, Elberta has seen fierce battles, violent storms, and frantic change―and when the town is once again threatened from without, Janie realizes it won’t withstand much more. So she tells the story of its people: of Hugh, her granddaddy, determined to preserve Elberta’s legacy at any cost; of his wife, Maybelle, the postmaster, whose sudden death throws the town into chaos; of her lover, Lee Malone, a black orchardist harvesting from a land where he is less than welcome; of the time when Janie kidnapped her own Hollywood-obsessed aunt and tore the wrong people apart.

As the world closes in on Elberta, Caleb Johnson’s debut novel lifts the veil and offers one last glimpse. Treeborne is a celebration and a reminder: of how the past gets mixed up in thoughts of the future; of how home is a story as much as a place.
 

"I can’t remember the last time I read a book I wish so much I’d written. Treeborne is beautiful, and mythic in ways I would never have been able to imagine...I can’t say enough about this book."―Daniel Wallace, national bestselling author of Extraordinary Adventures and Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions

“This boy cannot only write with beauty about how things are in the Deep South, he can write with an eerie feel for the way they used to be. I’ve heard a lot of great old editors say that you can’t teach writing, that it’s born. Caleb Johnson can make you believe it.”―Rick Bragg, New York Times bestselling author of My Southern Journey and All Over but the Shoutin'

"Using language rich as mulch, debut author Johnson tells the superb saga of three generations of Treebornes, who live near the town of Elberta in the southern reaches of Alabama... Sentence by loamy sentence, this gifted author digs up corpses and upends trees to create a place laden with magic and memory."-- Publishers Weekly, starred review
 

CALEB JOHNSON grew up in Arley, Alabama. He graduated from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and earned an MFA from the University of Wyoming. Treeborne (Picador, June 2018) is his debut novel. Johnson has written for the Southern Foodways Alliance, The Paris Review Daily, and The Bitter Southerner, among other publications. He has received a Jentel Artist Residency and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in fiction to the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Currently, Johnson lives with his partner, Irina, and their dog, Hugo, in Philadelphia, where he teaches while working on his next novel.

Two Needed Killing, Book #6 of the Needed Killing Series

Easty Lambert-Brown

When James F. Crawford retired from the university he didn't expect to become a private investigator. But Provost Rufus George wanted Crawford to investigate a suspicious death--and he wouldn't take no for an answer. Turns out, Crawford has a knack for solving crimes. With his dog and cat as the perfect sounding board, he talks through the specifics of each case--posing questions to Tan and The Black and answering them himself. If you like your mysteries with a side of humor, give the Needed Killing Series a try.

Asked to help an old lady get her family home back from greedy developers, Crawford reluctantly agrees. Mrs. McGillicuddy is thrilled. "I can't tell you how excited I was when Frank told me I'd get to meet a real detective. I just love murder mysteries." When Ms. Mac convinces Crawford to pretend to solve a mystery, he finds himself caught up in the most perplexing case of his career.

“The Needed Killing Series has a pleasing premise. In each novel . . . the murder victim is obnoxious and widely disliked. This not only makes the reader feel better about the death, it also swells the number of suspects.” --APR, Don Noble's Book Reviews, October 21, 2013

"I am absolutely delighted to have found this series by Bill Fitts and hope [it] continues for many books to come!" --C. Bragg (Amazon)

"I love all of the Needed Killing books. They are fresh and funny!" --Cheryl D. (Amazon)

"Fitts's writing is great for readers who appreciate language, as well as the particulars of settings and characters." --Claudia S. (Amazon)

"I absolutely love [Bill Fitts's] books. I look forward to the next book. Keep 'em coming!" --Janeo (Amazon)

About Bill Fitts

I used to say that I grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when, in truth, I only started growing older there. After nineteen years I left to go to college and, for the most part, spent the next twenty years aging somewhere else-New Jersey, Florida, Panama Canal Zone, Massachusetts, and Georgia. Then I returned to Tuscaloosa and continued the maturation process for another twenty-six years. In 2015 my wife and I moved to Vero Beach, Florida, where I hope to continue growing older for a good long time.

The locations I've lived in have had more influence on my mystery novels than on the fantasy series. The town of Shelbyville is based in large part on Tuscaloosa with some wrinkles from other locations thrown in to keep things interesting-and keep the inhabitants guessing. That's not to say that the places I've been aren't reflected in the fantasies-but most of the geography of Narne is imaginary. While growing older, I've tried my hand at a number of jobs-newspaper collator, darkroom technician, farmhand, factory worker, sailor, salesman, underwriter, account executive, accountant, systems administrator, information specialist--and professional writer. As an author I find that those earlier experiences contribute to what happens in my novels-again more in the not-as-fictional mysteries than in the fantasies. There's just not enough magic in the real world.

Interestingly, the event that crystalized my decision to start writing full-time is one that I haven't used in any of my novels. The tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, destroying an eighth of the town-including the back half of my house-hasn't made it into any of my novels. Shelbyville and Narne have both been spared. On the other hand, the support, encouragement, and editorial assistance my wife provides have been part of every novel since the beginning. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

The entire Needed Killing Series

The entire Needed Killing Series

'From Vacillation to Resolve' by Julian L. McPhillips, Jr.

Easty Lambert-Brown

From AL.com - "On April 17, 2018, exactly fifty years later to the day, famed Alabama civil rights attorney and politician Julian L. McPhillips Jr. [released] his 1968 Princeton University Senior Thesis as NewSouth Books' latest publication, From Vacillation to Resolve

Long before McPhillips became known as an author, a former US Senatorial candidate, an Assistant State Attorney General for Alabama and a consummate advocate of the underdog, he was a hard working college student at Princeton University, far away from his Alabama home. For over 40 years, he has been tackling such wrongs as police brutality, corporate malfeasance and employment discrimination across Alabama. During his senior year at Princeton, Julian had to tackle the daunting task of writing his first book, his senior thesis, in order to fulfill the university's requirements for graduation.

Julian McPhillips Jr. states, 'What a personally thrilling experience for me to reach back 50 years across time and bring my first serious writing project into 2018 to reach a much larger audience with the help of NewSouth Books. I think everyone from WWII and military history buffs to political history enthusiasts, students of the Nazi holocaust and readers who enjoyed my earlier books will enjoy this title.'

'From Vacillation to Resolve is an expertly written, carefully researched, and objectively presented study of an often overlooked or minimized chapter of World War II history,' states Daniel L. Haulman, USAF historian, author of The Tuskegee Airman Chronology, and co-author of The Tuskegee Airmen, an Illustrated History." (To read the full AL.com article, click here.)

Julian L. McPhillips Jr. was born in Birmingham, Alabama, grew up in Cullman, and attended Sewanee Military Academy, Princeton, and Columbia University Law. After four years as a Wall Street attorney, Julian returned to Alabama in 1975 as an Assistant Attorney General. His private law practice from 1977 to date has involved considerable civil rights and public interest work. Julian is the subject of the twice-published People’s Lawyer, 2000 and 2005, and now a new autobiography, Civil Rights in My Bones. He has won numerous awards from the SCLC, NAACP, and other civil rights groups. Julian is also co-founder (with his wife Leslie) of the Scott and Zelda Museum and lay minister/administrator of Christ the Redeemer Episcopal Church. Julian has been married to Leslie for 42 years. They have two married daughters, Rachel and Grace, one son David, and three grandchildren.

Southern Writers on Writing, edited by Susan Cushman

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"This is no stodgy how-to book. Southern Writers on Writing is over-flowing with good, strong voices--funny, caustic, compelling, and--yes--absurd. The writers Susan Cushman has assembled here understand this craft. They have endured the suffering that leads to great prose appearing so damn effortless. This collection is essential reading for emerging writers--as well as any fan of modern southern fiction."
--Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts

The South is often misunderstood on the national stage, characterized by its struggles with poverty, education, and racism, yet the region has yielded an abundance of undeniably great literature. In Southern Writers on Writing, Susan Cushman collects twenty-six writers from across the South whose work celebrates southern culture and shapes the landscape of contemporary southern literature.

Contributors like Lee Smith, Michael Farris Smith, W. Ralph Eubanks, and Harrison Scott Key, among others, explore issues like race, politics, and family and the apex of those issues colliding. It discusses landscapes, voices in the South, and how writers write. The anthology is divided into six sections, including "Becoming a Writer"; "Becoming a Southern Writer"; "Place, Politics, People"; "Writing about Race"; "The Craft of Writing"; and "A Little Help from My Friends."

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Susan Cushman (Editor) was co-director of the 2010 and 2013 Creative Nonfiction Conferences in Oxford, Mississippi, and director of the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop. She is author of a novel, Cherry Bomb(October 2017) and a nonfiction book, Tangles and Plaques: A Mother and Daughter Face Alzheimer’s (February 2017), and editor of A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be (March 2017). Her essays have appeared in three anthologies and numerous journals and magazines. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, she lives in Memphis.

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Raised in Arkansas and a longtime resident of Alabama, Jennifer Horne is a writer, editor, and teacher who explores Southern identity and experience, especially women’s, through prose, poetry, fiction, and anthologies and in classrooms and workshops across the South. Among her books are Bottle Tree: Poems (2010) and Tell the World You’re a Wildflower (2014), a collection of short stories in the voices of Southern women and girls. Her new collection of road and travel poems, Little Wanderer, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2016, and she has co-edited, with Don Noble, a collection of short fiction by Alabama women, Belles’ Letters II (2017). She is at work on a biography of writer Sara Mayfield.

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Wendy Reed is an Emmy-winning public TV producer and writer. She produces for two series at the University of Alabama (Bookmark with Don Noble and Discovering Alabama), where she teaches science and nature writing in the Honors College. In addition to publishing stories and essays, she has written An Accidental Memoir and co-edited two collections with Jennifer Horne, Circling Faith and All Out of Faith.The Alabama State Council on the Arts fellow lives with her husband in Hoover and is at work on a book about the short, tragic life of southern writer Clarence Cason.

Jacqueline Allen Trimble, Ph.D., lives and writes in Montgomery, Alabama, where she is the chairperson of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University. Her work has appeared inThe OffingBlue Lake Reviewand The Griot. Her poetry collection, American Happiness, is published by NewSouth Books. The ironically titled book examines America’s refusal to grapple with hard truths, preferring instead the pretense that everyone and everything is just fine.  Of the work Honorée Jeffers wrote, “I longed for her kind of poetry, these cut-to-the-flesh poems, this verse that sings the old time religion of difficult truths with new courage and utter sister-beauty,” and Randall Horton noted, “There is a jewel of a poet in the epicenter of Alabama who adeptly revisits the ugly of race, the power and legacy of familial bonds, the joys and beauty of growing up Southern—our complicated humanity.” Recently awarded a Key West Literary Seminar scholarship, she is currently the recipient of a 2017 literary arts fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. American Happiness was chosen as the poetry finalist and named Seven Sisters Book Award Best Book of 2016.

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