Cox, W. Eugene and Joyce Cox . Jonesborough's Historic Churches
Davis, William C. and Meredith L. Swentor (editors). Bluegrass Confederate: The Headquarters Diary of Edward O. Guerrant
Davis, William C. and James I. Robertson (editors). Virginia at War 1861
Dougherty, Kevin with J. Michael Moore. The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis
Ficara, John Francis and Juan Williams. Black Farmers in America
Hall, Wade (editor). The Kentucky Anthology: Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass State
Howard, Hugh with Richard Strauss. Writers of the American South: Their Literary Landscapes
Lundi, Ronni. Cornbread Nation 3: Foods of the Mountain South
McCrumb, Sharyn. St. Dale
Mann, Jeff. Loving Mountains, Loving Men (Ethnicity & Gender in Appalachia)
Moore, Jim. The All Animal Band
Murfree, Mary Noailles. In the "Stranger People's" Country
Pillsbury, Richard (volume editor) and Charles Reagan Wilson (general editor).The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 2, Geography (New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture)
Smith, Timothy B. The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield
Cox, W. Eugene and Joyce Cox . Jonesborough's Historic Churches. Jonesborough: Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, 2006. ISBN 0-9777016-151295.
As Tennessee 's oldest town, Jonesborough holds a special place in Tennessee history and its history is worth digging into for historians and genealogists alike. In Jonesborough's Historic Churches, the first of a series of books planned about Jonesborough, W. Eugene and Joyce Cox have gathered the histories of eleven of Jonesborough's churches. More than just a discussion of architecture and building history, this book mines a myriad of sources to tell the stories of the people and leaders who made up the congregations over the years.
The book begins with a brief chapter outlining the history of the early settlers of Jonesborough and their interest (or lack of interest!) in religion. (Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury who was in Tennessee by 1788 is quoted as saying that "the people came here for land, not religion.") A simple map of Jonesborough denotes the locations of its churches, and this is followed by a list of those churches in chronological order of construction. Each chapter of the book focuses on one of these churches and their congregations and leaders. The narrative is enriched with photographs and drawings of people and events, architectural drawings, and photographs of old handbills and program covers. Most chapters include fairly extensive end notes. An index at the end lists people and places mentioned in the book.
The authors liberally sprinkle their narrative with stories about events that shaped denominations in the area. For example, they discuss the split and eventual reunification of the Tennessee Methodist church over the issue of slavery. In 1844 a slaveholding southern bishop was proposed to head the Holston Conference. Abolitionists objected, and a plan of separation was adopted giving authority to each annual conference to decide whether they would be under the southern or northern church. Finally, after almost a century, the northern and southern divisions of Tennessee Methodists were reunified in a ceremony at Knoxville , Tennessee in 1939.
The authors also include many stories of the pastors, their families, and prominent members of congregations. In a discussion of the Holston Baptist Female Institute which opened in Jonesborough around 1853, we read about a student named Caledonia "Callie" Beard. She received a letter from her grandparents who had heard about "a great Revival going on in that place with the Presbyterians." They admonished Callie that ". one Step amiss at this age might Ruin you for life. . Remember you are a Baptist and Every body is watching and glad to hear of the downfall of the Baptist company."
Gene and Joyce Cox's research includes architectural drawings, church histories, diaries, church session minutes, deed books, newspapers, journals, magazines, the U.S. census, and interviews. With these they paint a picture of these historic churches and their influence on the people and events of Jonesborough that is well worth reading. W. Eugene and Joyce Cox are residents of Washington County and have recently published History of Washington County Tennessee under the auspices of the Washington County Historical Association.
Beverly Simmons, Reference and Instruction Librarian
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Davis, William C. and Meredith L. Swentor, editors. Bluegrass Confederate The Headquarters Diary of Edward O. Guerrant Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999. ISBN-10: 0807130583, ISBN-13: 978-0807130582.
The overall content and purpose of the book is to present the diaries of Kentucky Confederate soldier Captain Edward O. Guerrant written from January 30 th 1862 to April 11, 1865 and Guerrant's unfinished book of the diaries History of Kentucky Soldiers. The editors' points of view are that Guerrant wrote the diaries mainly for his girl friend Mary Wells and then his future wife Mary Jane DeVault. Remarks on the weather, religion, sickness, and death compel the reader to believe Guerrant is a sensitive soldier who pondered the feelings of himself and the other soldiers at war. Comments about mutilated and severed bodies, dying soldiers, and constant fighting in the snow with no shoes or shirts communicate the indescribable terror and horror of the Civil War.
The twenty-five diaries and the incomplete History of Kentucky Soldiers from which Bluegrass Confederate originates are in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill . The editor William C. Davis is a history professor at Virginia Tech University and heads the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. Meredith L. Swentor resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida .
The book is seven hundred and sixteen pages. A Civil War map of Virginia introduces the book while a similar Civil War map of Kentucky ends the book. The front cover of Bluegrass Confederate features a photograph of Captain Edward O. Guerrant furnished by Charlotte Guerrant, the wife of Edward O. Guerrant, a California university faculty member and the grandson of Captain Ned Guerrant. The page preceding the title page shows the same photograph of Captain Edward O. Guerrant. There is a preface, an abbreviations list, an introduction, and a table of contents. An epilogue from the "History," an appendix, and an index complete Bluegrass Confederate .
The back cover shares reviews of Bluegrass Confederate from four leading history journals.
Each chapter starts with one to three paragraphs written in italics summarizing what the chapter contains. All thirty-eight chapters include dates like a diary. For example, Chapter One "Off to the War" covers Thursday- 30h. January.1862 through Saturday. Feb. 22 1862 . Chapter Thirty-eight "It is Finished" covers Sunday 2d. April, 1865 through Saturday 8. April 1865.
The intended audience is anyone interested in Kentucky Confederate soldiers and their battles in Kentucky , Virginia, and Tennessee. Bluegrass Confederate accurately, authoritatively, scholarly, tremendously, and most definitely and importantly contributes to the history field especially the subject and study of the Civil War. Any academic library, public library, or Civil War historic collection special library should purchase Bluegrass Confederate .
Melinda F. Matthews, Interlibrary Loan Librarian
University of Louisiana at Monroe
Davis, William C. and James I. Robertson, Jr., editors. Virginia at War, 1861. Lexington: University of Kentucky , 2005. ISBN-10: 0813123720, ISBN-13: 978-0813123721.
Virginia at War, 1861 is the first of a projected five volumes which will each deal with a discrete year in the life of Civil War Virginia . If this first effort is any indication, the series will be a truly outstanding collection. Editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson, Jr. are acclaimed scholars on the subject. Davis is the director of programs at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and a professor of history at Virginia Tech. Robertson is Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at Virginia Tech and the author of numerous books, including Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, the Legend. Together they have assembled a readable, informative, and diverse collection of what they describe as "roads less traveled" (vii).
The book contains nine essays beginning with Robertson's "The Virginia State Convention of 1861" in which the author vividly describes the discussions, debates, and divisions with which Virginia wrestled on its road to secession. Robertson also articulates Virginia 's leadership position and just how important the state's decision was to the Confederacy. In "Land Operations in Virginia in 1861," Craig Symonds outlines Virginia 's struggle to build a defense establishment and the engagements of 1861 including the small but important battles in the western counties, the euphoria of Manassas , and the psychological impact of Big Bethel. Symonds skillfully leaves the reader with the appreciation that there is an end of innocence and that subsequent years will make 1861 appear almost quaint. Joseph Glatthaar uses "Confederate Soldiers in Virginia , 161" to describe the background and experiences of the soldiers rushing to serve Virginia . Glatthaar's analysis of the impact of a rural or urban background on soldiering is especially enlightening. In "A Navy Department, Hitherto Unknown to Our State Organization," John Coski chronicles the expediencies, challenges, and accomplishments of Virginia in building an independent navy prior to being amalgamated into the Confederate nation. Coski makes clear the strategic and operational importance of the Gosport Navy Yard and Hampton Roads as he weaves his essay. In "Afro-Virginians' Attitudes on Secession and Civil War, 1861," Ervin Jordan works through the difficulty of sparse self-documentation to provide a broad perspective of the black experience in Virginia , to include attitudes toward secession and early interactions with Federal forces. William Davis provides an informative behind-the-scenes look at the machinations and politics that resulted in Richmond becoming the Confederate capital in "Richmond Becomes the Capital." As in other essays, the theme of Virginia 's importance to the Confederacy is very clear in Davis 's work. In "The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia," Michael Mahon describes not just the agricultural and strategic importance of the Valley, but also the human dynamic of a divided region that lay between the unionist western countries and the more pro-Confederate counties to the east. C. Stuart McGehee further explores those western counties in "The Tarnished Thirty-Fifth Star," in which he details West Virginia statehood and its enduring impact on the very character of the state. The final entry is a new version of Judith Brokenbrough McGuire's "Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War, 1861" edited by Robertson. Robertson illuminates many of McGuire's cryptic references in providing the 1861 portion of her diary. Other years will appear in subsequent volumes.
Virginia at War, 1861 has something for everyone. McGuire's diary for instance is equally valuable to the historian looking for a first person account as it is for the casual reader seeking the drama of the human condition. All the essays are informative, superbly documented, and well-written. It is the beginning of what will surely be an excellent series.
Kevin Dougherty, Instructor
Department of History, University of Southern Mississippi
Dougherty, Kevin with J. Michael Moore. The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi , 2005. ISBN-10: 1578067529 ISBN-13: 978-1578067527.
This slim volume, with comprehensive analysis of "Little Napoleon's" failed war plan executed in 1862, offers readers an inside view of the personalities and politics that influenced the largest offensive of the Civil War. The authors' intense scrutiny of general George McClellan's assault on Richmond highlights errors such as the absence of a "joint doctrine" between the forces, failed intelligence by the Pinkerton's detective agency, and the influence of partisan politics.
Kevin Dougherty is a military science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi . J. Michael Moore is the registrar of Lee Hall Mansion in Yorktown , Virginia. Dougherty and Moore provide excellent background information in order for the reader to comprehend their analysis of the campaign. They quote other historians' opinions concerning the direction of blame. Readers are spared the authors' personal opinions until the last of the book. Peninsula Campaign... begins with biographies of the major players on the Federal and Confederate sides as well as an overview of joint operations at the outset of the war. Subsequent chapters narrate the execution of the war plan and what made it unravel and expand on the actions that turned the tide in favor of the Confederacy. The appendices include a chronology of events, a list of historical sites for touring and tips for conducting a staff ride. An in-depth bibliography, index, photos, maps and diagrams would enhance the efforts of interested researchers using this book for publication or lectures.
Scholars and Civil War buffs alike will find this helpful in really understanding the failures of McClellan and the Federals in comparison to the audacity of general Robert E. Lee and the Confederates for this segment of the war. Dougherty and Moore provide an orderly, easy to read, critical analysis of military doctrine. This should be a required purchase for academic libraries supporting history, military science and political science programs. This would be an optional purchase for public libraries with extensive civil war collections.
East Tennessee State University
Ficara, John Francis and Juan Williams. Black Farmers in America. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. ISBN-10: 0813123992 ISBN-13: 978-0813123998.
Opposite the title page is an image of a man, wrinkled and worn, but not downtrodden. He wears a cap with a tractor on it and the words embroidered above it explain it all "My Way of Life". Freelance photographer John Francis Ficara (formerly with Newsweek) transforms the trite phrase 'the eyes are the windows to the soul' into meaningful photos in Black Farmers in America. For through the hazy thickness of cataracts, the reader sees the subjects' worries for lack of rain and hopes for the bank note to be paid.
Ficara provides a sepia-toned glimpse into the lives of farming families as they harvest together, pray together and eat together. He allows the reader an opportunity to witness the long days of struggle on small farms. Yet amid barns in disrepair and rusty broken down tractors, a beacon of faith shines within the images. It is this conviction and self-reliance that is depicted in Ficara's portraits.
Accompanying the photographs is an essay by Juan Williams, NPR correspondent and former Washington Post writer. Williams's narrative provides historical context beginning around the time of the Civil War. His explanation of the "forty acres and a mule" myth and all of the second class citizenry that accompanied the Jim Crow laws results in the shortage of black farmers today.
The captions with names and details relating to the images are collected at the end of the book so as not to distract from the artfulness of the photos. (However, it was fairly distracting to have to page back and forth to find the captions that correspond with each picture.) Interspersed throughout its pages are quotes from the farmers. "I expect it's just gonna be a few farmers and a whole lot of land." - Herman Lynch (North Carolina). Additional quotes may have added another layer of richness to this work.
Those who value evocative photography and United States history buffs will appreciate this work. Others tied to agriculture identify with the dirty and dry hands captured on its pages, but perhaps those who are a generation removed from the black farmers-their children-may find this work the most compelling; they will recognize the horses and plows and the thin bodies shielded from the sun by long sleeves and floppy hats.
Black Farmers in America chronicles a culture on the brink of extinction. Its contribution to recorded history may be, if essayist, John Williams' predictions are correct, to provide insight into the lives of struggling small farms that will, in time, exist no more. This book is an excellent memorial book for public libraries and could also serve an important role in an academic library setting. School media centers might also find it useful to illustrate the process by which much of America gets its food.
Picking beans, hauling hay, repairing tires, welding tractors: these hard working hands perform all these tasks and no where are their lives recorded with more touching images than in Black Farmers in America .
Linebaugh Public Library
Hall, Wade, editor. The Kentucky Anthology: Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass State. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2005. ISBN-10: 0813123763, ISBN-13: 978-0813123769.
In 1956, the University of Kentucky press published an anthology of Kentucky writers, compiled by Thomas D. Clarke, called Bluegrass Cavalcade. Fifty years later, they have published a similar effort by Wade Hall. By far the most comprehensive anthology of Kentucky writers (as well as those who wrote about Kentucky ) undertaken, this massive work is both thorough and inclusive.
The largest part of the book is broken into historical eras and themes, but is not limited to writing done in that time. For example, the first section, 'When Kentucky Was Wilderness: The Early Years,' includes the work of frontiersmen such as George Rogers Clark and famous visitors to the commonwealth. It also includes a passage from contemporary Louisville native Jude Deveraux's romance novel River Lady, which is set during that historical era. This willingness to evoke the era in unconventional ways makes for a more interesting work, as well as a more inclusive one - how else to avoid a straight list of names of white males for that time period?
The first chapters of compiling anthologies of this type is often as simple as making a list of the usual suspects - most beloved Kentuckian Abraham Lincoln, for example, is required - and choosing which writings to include. Grand old men of Kentucky literature, such as Robert Penn Warren, James Still, and Jesse Stuart, are well represented.
It is in Hall's judicious choice of recent and contemporary authors that this work shines, recognizing that Kentucky fiction doesn't have to be set in Appalachia . It can be small town, suburban, urban, or set outside America altogether. While including 'stereotypical' Kentucky writers, such as Wendell Berry and Harry M. Caudill, who focus on the mountains that come to mind when most people think of the Commonwealth, the anthology also includes authors such as bestselling novelist Sue Grafton and literary icon Barbara Kingsolver, whose work is always informed by being from Kentucky.
This inclusiveness extends to recognizing that not all of Kentucky literature consists of good-hearted women, rawboned mountain men, and stunning natural beauty. The state has a slave-holding past, and the anthology specifically addresses this ugliness in a section titled 'The Scourges of Slavery and Civil War.' While anyone with the barest acquaintance with this era has read of a slave's fear of 'being sold down the river' into the deep South, reading about Milton Clarke's gut-wrenching experiences in gracious, sophisticated Lexington will drive home the point that slavery was not 'better' in the border states.
After the main, roughly chronological portion, there is a thin selection of drama, powerful entries from recent non-fiction, and a rich selection of contemporary poetry. This is followed by a useful section of short biographies of the authors, supplementing the Kentucky connection that is given with their writings.
Any anthology lives or dies by the quality of the selected work, and this one comes alive splendidly. If you want to laugh, open the pages to Ed McClanahan as he writes about The Natural Man, a selection from a slender coming-of-age novel without a single wrong word; dip in another place and try to not cry over Maureen Morehead's poem 'Why I Stopped Writing in My Diary.'
In such a massive book, white space is at a premium, and the layout has a crowded look to it. The designers chose to put the running title and each author's name at the bottom of the page instead of the top, a minor annoyance for this reader.
Recommended for academic and large public libraries, as well as any library with an Appalachian or regional focus.
Sherrod Library , East Tennessee State University
Howard, Hugh with Richard Strauss. Writers of the American South: Their Literary Landscapes. New York: Rizzoli, 2005. ISBN-10: 0847827674, ISBN-13: 978-0847827671.
An exploration of literary landscapes from Centreville, Maryland to Key West, Florida includes writers with connections to the South through birth, residence or subject matter. Readers are invited to visit the "sense of place" that has inspired past authors as well as those of the present. Author Hugh Howard and photographer Richard Strauss made their selections based on conversations with other writers, editors and their fellow readers. The resulting compilation highlights modern writers such as Ann Patchett, Carl Hiaasen, and Jan Karon. While canon-worthy ones, like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Zora Neale Hurston, offer the most celebrity.
No stranger to architecture, Howard had previously collaborated with Strauss on Thomas Jefferson, Architect. Both worked on similar books with the homes of Williamsburg, Virginia and Natchez, Mississippi as their primary subjects. Like the selection of writers, the architecture of the homes represents an array of styles: Greek revival, Tudor, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Mid-Century Modern and Spanish. The additional photos of the homes' interiors and grounds give viewers a sense of the writers' personalities. Brief histories of the surrounding region are sometimes included, as well as a chronology of what was written while in residence. Factors influencing the choice of residence are not overlooked, nor is any type of detached dwelling used as a sanctuary for writing. Transporting the reader to Margaret Mitchell's "dump on tight squeeze" in Atlanta, Georgia or to a time when critics dismissed Kate Chopin's The Awakening as "immoral or unhealthy" happens through the diligent research and condensed composition of Howard.
A table of contents lists the author, their town, and the title of their chapter. Chapters include a bibliography of each writer's works. The acknowledgements list those interviewed, sites visited and main biographies consulted. A list of the nine houses that are open to the public offers operating dates and hours as well as websites for further information. Some photos are in black and white with the majority being in color. Double-paged spreads are featured on pages that fold out . The limitation to twenty-one authors may disappoint but Hughes's reasons for selection in the introduction are convincing. His work, teamed with Strauss's photographs, satisfies readers with interests in literature, architecture, or photography. Although written for the general public, an academic audience could discover more about favorite authors, areas, or architecture. Due to the inclusion of James Lee Burke, Pat Conroy, and Barry Hannah, public libraries are recommended to purchase. Peter Taylor, Thomas Wolfe, and Shelby Foote offer insight to those in the academic fields of American history and English.
Amy Arnold, Sherrod Library
East Tennessee State University
Lundy, Ronni. Cornbread Nation 3: Foods of the Mountain South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2005. ISBN-10: 0807856568, ISBN-13: 978-0807856567.
The Southern Foodways Alliance was founded to celebrate, teach, preserve, and promote the food cultures of the American South. Cornbread Nation 3 is their third collection of stories, poems, and essays. But beware-this compilation is more than just a celebration of good eating. It's also about people's connection to the land and to each other, and what food says about a people. In her introduction, Ronni Lundy explains it this way
In other words, looking through the lens of real Southern mountain food-the methods of its growing, processing and eating-we began to see a vivid picture of the region and its people that had little in common with their most prevalent and demeaning stereotypes (2).
Reading Cornbread Nation 3 is a lot like going to a buffet-one can sample selected items or try everything. The end result is a satisfying whole. The book is divided into six sections: "Planting the Essential Seeds: Corn and Beans," "Raising Consciousness," "Cultivating Community," "The Meat of the Matter," "The Harvest," and "Food and Love." Many well-known poets and writers, including Nikki Giovanni, Rick Bragg, Harriette Simpson Arnow, Jim Wayne Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tony Early, and Marilou Awiakta, are among the contributors. Selections go beyond the traditional "Mountain South" of the subtitle to include Rick Bragg writing about Cajun cooking as a cure for getting over a broken heart and David Cecelski's "The Oyster Shucker's Song" about the Carolina oyster industry. There is also plenty of good writing about traditional mountain foods: cornbread and beans, biscuits and bacon, barbecue, pawpaws, and ramps. Two entries deal with meats that the reader will not find in a supermarket: Possum and squirrel. Love blooms for a 14 year old girl at a syrup stir-off. Authors pay homage to their grandmothers and mothers' cooking. Readers will come away yearning for the good old days (or regretting that they never experienced the good old days).
Ronni Lundy is a journalist as well as the author of several cookbooks. She is also a founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. As a result of her capable editing, Cornbread Nation 3 is an enjoyable book that should find a place in most public and academic libraries.
Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University
McCrumb, Sharyn. St. Dale. New York : Kensington, 2005. ISBN-10: 075820776X, ISBN-13: 978-0758207760.
Here is your chance to attend a race at the Bristol Motor Speedway! Those races are sold out years in advance, but in Sharyn McCrumb's latest novel, St. Dale, you have front row seats at the race, witness a raceway wedding, shop for souvenirs on the grounds, meet some of the drivers, and experience the traffic jam on Volunteer Parkway . McCrumb has become a stock car race aficionado, and this book is her testament to the world of NASCAR. She became intrigued by the cult hero status awarded such icons as Elvis, John Lennon, and St. Thomas a Becket while in graduate school, she says in her Author's Note, and within she explores the Dale Earnhardt phenomenon. Since his death by race car in 2001, Earnhardt has been canonized by the common folk, with shrines, souvenirs, and outpourings of grief to this day. This novel explores the ways in which ordinary people elevate themselves through identification with grassroots heroes.
McCrumb uses the pilgrimage motif: a group of Earnhardt fans of varying degrees are on a bus tour (the Number 3 Pilgrimage), visiting NASCAR raceways where the Intimidator raced. Former driver Harley Claymore is the guide, regaling the pilgrims with racing lore as they travel together and lay wreaths at each venue. With apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer, these pilgrims have names such as the Rev. Bill Knight of Canterbury, New York; Ray Reeve; and Jesse Franklin.
Each of the pilgrims spins his tale in usual colorful McCrumb style. And each pilgrim learns as much about himself as he does about Earnhardt. Terence, the son of a famous racing father he barely knew, comes to terms with his own feelings about that relationship. Matthew is a child with cancer on a sort of make-a-wish trip. Three good old girls travel together each year, one of whom, Bekasu, is a skeptic who succumbs to the lure of the speedway. Ghosts of Dale and other deceased drivers appear along the way to work their miracles. Much NASCAR trivia is conveyed. I rather identified with Bekasu as one who once thought racing was just a bunch of cars going around in a circle. Like her, I now have a better appreciation and respect for those drivers' skills, and that may have been McCrumb's chief intent.
McCrumb fans will also want to see the fall 2005 issue of Now & Then: the Appalachian Magazine , published at East Tennessee State University. This issue is themed "Car Racing in Appalachia: From 'Shine to Shrines." McCrumb has contributed a missing final scene to the novel, an article, and an interview with her favorite driver, Ward Burton.
Julie Adams, Associate Director
Merner Pfeiffer Library,Tennessee Wesleyan College
Mann, Jeff. Loving Mountains, Loving Men. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005. ISBN-10: 0821416499, ISBN-13: 978-0821416495.
What is like to be seen by the world through the lenses of two prejudices, regional and homophobic? This work is the fifth in Ohio University 's Series in Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia, and at first the memoir seems an odd fit with the biography and edited compilation of chapters that preceded it. Mann, however, is writing about being gay in the mountains, so it is somehow fitting that this work is atypical, more personal than most academic writing is allowed to be. After all, there is not yet a deep pool of writing by and about Appalachian homosexuals from which to select.
Loving... is, first and foremost, an accessible book. Mann writes with a spare elegance and the occasional vivid word-picture that one would expect from a poet. He begins with his high school years, as he begins to step away from childhood into the larger world. As most people from Appalachia have experienced, the larger world is more than ready to pounce with the stereotype, the scorn. For Mann, the larger world was also armed with homophobia.
It is poignant to read about his anger when someone insults his home region, when so many insults that come his way are personal - or worse than insults. A person doesn't often get punched in the face for no other reason than being from West Virginia, for example.
Loneliness and isolation are recurrent themes. The homogeneity of Appalachia amplifies the difficulties of being different in a small town, but Mann finds that he is still lonesome after escaping to cities, unable to find a sense of home anywhere except the mountains where he grew up. Scattered throughout the slender volume are poems that are full of his love for the region. Family, the one we are born into and the one we create along the way, is also a recurrent topic.
In several places, Mann characterizes his writing as revenge on those who hurt him. Living well is said to be the very best revenge, and the reader will be glad to find that the author has made his way to a successful and happy middle age. In the end, the book is not about being gay or being from the mountains. This memoir stands as a testament that a human is not one characteristic - male, female, straight, gay, hillbilly, Yankee - but a rich tapestry of attributes, some in harmony, some conflicting.
Many of the poems and some pieces of the narrative have appeared elsewhere, but the book is a cohesive whole. Recommended for academic and public libraries, Appalachia collections, and any library that collects with an eye toward diversity.
Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University
Moore, Jim. All Animal Band. Mt. Juliet, TN: The Animal Band Productions, 2004. ISBN-10: 0975261908, ISBN-13: 978-0975261903.
In 1989, Jim Moore wrote a song for his children about a group of animals that form a band. The song, "All Animal Band," marked the beginning of Moore’s career in family entertainment. All Animal Band, his first book, is based on that song. It is a delightful book that parents and librarians will enjoy sharing with children.
The story is simple. Willie the Squirrel is enchanted by the music being played at the park ranger’s house and longs to make beautiful music himself. Willie convinces his friends, Ollie the Owl, Fredi the Frog, Dan the Dog, and Slick the Snake, to accompany him to the ranger’s house to hear the musicians play; afterwards, the five friends decide to form an all animal band. Their first concert is enjoyed by their fellow forest creatures as well as Elroy J. Gigaway, who is not only human but also a talent scout. Elroy knows talent when he hears it, and by the end of the story the All Animal Band is leaving on their first world tour.
Jim Moore has written a story that is creative and fun. Some of the band’s instruments are made by Bucky the Beaver, who uses his teeth to shape out a guitar and bass and his tail to polish the wood. Ten thousand spiders weave the instruments’ strings, which are guaranteed against breakage. Elroy tells stories to the five friends about other “animal” groups such as the Beatles, the Byrds, the Turtles, and Hootie and the Blowfish. Neat!
Norris Hall is an artist best known for his fun clocks and drawings, many of which feature fish. His illustrations for this book are brightly colored and portray the animals in a rustic setting. Many of the illustrations include hidden pictures, which should delight children.
It has been my experience that a good children’s book will not only entertain children, but also the adults who have to read it. With this criterion in mind, The All Animal Band by Jim Moore is indeed a good children’s book. It would be a welcome addition for juvenile collections in schools and public libraries.
Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University
Murfree, Mary Noailles. In the 'Stranger People's' Country. 1891 Edited edition with an introduction by Marjorie Pryse. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2005. ISBN-10: 080328313X, ISBN-13: 978-0803283138.
At first glance Murfree's novel appears to tell the story of the mysterious, prehistoric "leetle stranger people" buried in the mountains of Tennessee and the outsider archaeologist who wants to open their graves. Shattuck, the archaeologist, does encounter hostility from part of the mountain community, with one woman threatening to shoot anyone who violates the graves. But this really just provides the background for a story that paints a vivid picture of life in Appalachia during the late Nineteenth century. The story itself becomes more of a murder mystery when one local mountaineer disappears and a traveling stranger is robbed and murdered by a band of horse thieves.
Murfree tells a charming and interesting story in her novel, but her greatest accomplishment is her account of the history and culture of her beloved Tennessee mountains. She does this in part by using the dialect of Appalachia, so much so that at times it is very difficult to decipher. She also writes elaborate descriptions of the physical environment, which while sometimes can be charming, can also be distracting. As one 1895 New York Times reviewer put it,
In her descriptions of scenery Miss Murfree is always facile and poetic, but in these stories there is just a little too much scenery for the drama, so to speak-the setting ever overshadows the human action.
While most of the few critics of her work focus on her flaws as a writer, her work is still valuable as a historical representation of Appalachia and an example of women's literature in the late Nineteenth century. This edition includes an extensive introduction by Marjorie Pryse, professor of English and women's studies at the University of Albany, State University of New York. Pryse provides some fascinating biographical information about Murfree, who wrote under the pseudonym of Charles Egbert Craddock. In addition to this work, she also critiques several of Murfree's other works, which are all set in Appalachia .
This work is optional for most libraries, but is highly recommended for academic libraries supporting Appalachian studies.
Pillsbury, Richard, volume editor and Charles Reagan Wilson, general editor. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 2, Geography. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. ISBN-10: 0807856819, ISBN-13: 978-0807856819.
Updating the original 1989 work, The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture is an admirable undertaking and involves much interesting research and facts. However, Richard Pillsbury, the editor of volume 2, "Geography" is content in claiming that "this volume is the most complete look at the spatial character of southern culture ever published" (Introduction, xviii). After viewing the table of contents with the list of topics, one can readily see that this work takes a broad look and blurs the traditional concept of the south with bordering regions of the country by including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas in demonstrating the influence of southern culture in a larger sense. While one may generally agree with the editor's statement on completeness, there are some noticeable gaps in some of the key influences and characteristics covered in this volume.
The volume is arranged by a variety of topics and the work begins with a lengthy overview essay entitled, "Landscape, Cultural," written by the volume editor. This essay synthesizes basic facts about the geography of the south and focuses on the landforms, migration streams and patterns, distinguishing characteristics, the regions (lowland south, the Atlantic lowland, gulf coastal lowland, Atlantic coastal plains, and upland south), and other cultural landscapes (Acadian Louisiana, South Florida, transition zones, and new directions). The essay is pretty straightforward in its approach to describing the south in general.
Following the opening essay twenty-seven articles, ranging from two to six pages each, are arranged alphabetically by subject and include general topics from agricultural regions to foodways, from ethnicity to the geography of sports. There is a second alphabetical listing of twenty-nine topics that includes briefer articles of only a page or two in length and focuses on Atlanta, Little Dixie, and the Ozarks but also includes cotton gins, primogeniture and sugar plantations, among others. However, from looking at the table of contents one is mystified as to why there are two separate lists when putting all of the articles in a single arrangement regardless of length would have been simpler.
As wonderful as this work appears there seems to be gaps or omissions in this volume, although some of these "missing" topics may be covered in other volumes of the entire set. One noticeable omission is the influence of the Scots-Irish on the Southern Appalachians and Piedmont regions; the Celtic influence is only mentioned in passing. Also, while there is an article on the "black belt," there is not one for the "Bible belt," which has been a common geographical term used for years. Similarly, there are unusual inclusions as well, for in the article on expatriates and exiles there is mention of an agricultural settlement of southerners in Brazil that thrived before the 1870s and whose descendants still celebrate there with a southern potluck dinner annually. Many of the articles, like the one on language regions, refer to locations but do not include maps to indicate where these places exist. The influence of music was scattered throughout many articles rather than making it a separate article, although there will be a volume focusing on music. Likewise, the influence of literary authors are also scattered about the articles, there is no mention of the growing influence of film-making in the south as a location or as part of the storyline or plot. While these are not major flaws in coverage, it makes one reflect upon the volume editor's statement that this is the most complete look at this subject.
The majority of articles were well-written but others were uneven in their coverage and content. Bibliographic citations were found at the end of each article. The black and white photographs and illustrations were minimal and the indexing was thorough.
While there are some deficiencies in coverage, the overall work is very informative and fascinating to read. There are many things that even born and raised Southerners can learn from this work. This title and other in the series are affordable for most libraries and this format of separately published topics allows individuals the option of purchasing those of interest.
Stephen Allan Patrick
Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University
Smith, Timothy B. The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield. Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, 2006. ISBN-10: 1572334665, ISBN-13: 978-1572334663.
At Pittsburg Landing, near Savannah, Tennessee , Union and Confederate troops clashed and 24,000 casualties - killed, wounded, and missing - were the consequence of two days of intense fighting in April 1862. The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield is a coherent collection of nine essays on this devastating Civil War battle and the creation of the site as a national military park. The author, Timothy B. Smith, is a member of the Shiloh National Military Park staff, and has published two other books on the Civil War.
This collection of essays can easily be read as standalone entities or as a monograph; much is gained from either approach. In the introduction, which sets the scene for the nine essays that follow, Smith briefly recounts the history of the area before the bloody battle made its mark on the landscape. He follows with a concise recap of the battle, the creation of a national cemetery in 1866, and the establishment of the military park.
The first five essays focus on the battle and its immediate aftermath. Having an ancestor who fought in the battle, thrice visited the park, and attended a battle reenactment, I found the first essay "Historians and the Battle of Shiloh" particularly enlightening. In this essay Smith outlines the four schools of historiography that have evolved over the years. The first school emerged from the veterans who participated in the battle. This was followed by the Hornet's Nest school of thought, a view espoused by David Read, an early park superintendent and battle participant. This viewpoint contends that the fight at the Hornet's Nest was the crucial aspect of the battle. The Wiley Sword school of thought argues that the death of the Confederate General Johnston was a pivotal moment in the battle. The latest school to emerge is the Revisionist School which espouses a view that the battlefield itself should be the major source of information. Smith is an advocate of this latest historiography and hopes that it is further explored. Interpretation of the battle at the park itself continues to emphasize the fight at the Hornets Nest and Johnston's death on the first day of battle.
The last four articles focus on the creation of the national cemetery and the military park. The coherence collapses somewhat here as these essays are more repetitious, especially the last essay on DeLong Rice. In this section "Shiloh's Monument Dedication: Speeches and Rhetoric of Reunion" is an effective essay that recounts selected speeches given from 1902 to 1919 when monuments were dedicated by various states such as Ohio, Wisconsin and groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor the soldiers who fought in the battle. Smith uses the dedication speeches to demonstrate the reconciliation sentiment that was pervasive of the time at the end of the Civil War veterans' era.
The Untold Story of Shiloh is highly recommended for any library with Civil War or Tennessee history collections, especially academic and medium to large public libraries.
Livy Simpson, Cataloging/ILL Librarian
Volunteer State Community College
Book Review Editor:
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN 37601