13 November 2009

A great book and a good friend

I just found out that my friend Susan Youngblood Ashmore at Oxford College of Emory Univeristy won the Southern Historical Association's Francis B. Simkins Award - recognizing the best first book by an author in the field of southern history over a two-year period - and the Southern Association of Women Historians' Willie Lee Rose Prize. Not a bad take for one conference. Her book is Carry It On:
The War on Poverty and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, 1964–1972
(University of Georgia Press, 2008). It's worth your time.

30 October 2009

Another book...

Why is it that all my friends seem to be cranking out the books, while I sit here watching Auburn trying to ascend to mediocrity? This time it's brother Brooks Blevins with his latest, Arkansas/Arkansaw How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State. It's the study of the image of a state as perceived by its people and outsiders, and if it runs true to the ole Blevins form, it will be a great book and a fun read. His article on selling fireworks in the South, which ran in Southern Cultures a few years back, is one of my favorite essays about the modern South...and a real knee-slapper, something we academics rarely pull off. Now off to write something myself. I've been suitably shamed.

20 October 2009

"Serves Me Right to Suffer"

I'm in marathon advising sessions this week, and John Lee Hooker sings for me...

19 October 2009

Fly Fishing and Vets

A great story about a group helping veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan find healing through what Izaac Walton called the "contemplative man's recreation." Pretty cool.

17 October 2009

Best Southern Nonfiction...

I have an affection for rankings and polls. Maybe it's my love of college football, although Auburn's recent drop from the polls might change my feelings. There's just something about a list of "bests," be they restaurants, pick-up trucks, football teams, all-time NFL strong safeties, or whatever that I find fascinating and down-right fun. The beauty of these kinds of lists is you don't have to agree. In fact, it's better if you don't. A list that clearly got it wrong gives you ample reason to turn to the person next to you in the dentist's waiting room and exclaim, "Can you believe they picked that?!" The Oxford American, a magazine I've always enjoyed despite its frequent financial travails, offered this list of the best in southern non-fiction in their August issue and I just noticed it. The top four are top-notch: James Agee, Richard Wright, W.J. Cash, and Eudora Welty. I would have placed Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl a bit higher on the list, and my affection for Willie Morris would lead me to do the same with North Toward Home. If nothing else, this list -- including those receiving just a few votes -- provides a heck of a reading list for anyone interested in the South and its people.

15 October 2009

Marching in Step

One of my good friends has just published a book those of you who study, read, and ruminate about the South and American culture should find rewarding. It's Alexander Macaulay's Marching in Step: Masculinity, Citizenship, and The Citadel in Post-World War II America (University of Georgia Press, 2009). It's about the South, but it's also about much more. Macaulay examines the concept of American masculinity during the Cold War as seen through the prism of an institution whose self-described mission was to build "whole men." Read it. Buy it. They make excellent gifts. The holidays are almost upon us.