Crazy River

Author: Richard Grant
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781439157640
Release Date: 2011-10-25
Genre: Travel

NO ONE TRAVELS QUITE LIKE RICHARD GRANT and, really, no one should. In his last book, the adventure classic God’s Middle Finger, he narrowly escaped death in Mexico’s lawless Sierra Madre. Now, Grant has plunged with his trademark recklessness, wit, and curiosity into East Africa. Setting out to make the first descent of an unexplored river in Tanzania, he gets waylaid in Zanzibar by thieves, whores, and a charismatic former golf pro before crossing the Indian Ocean in a rickety cargo boat. And then the real adventure begins. Known to local tribes as “the river of bad spirits,” the Malagarasi River is a daunting adversary even with a heavily armed Tanzanian crew as travel companions. Dodging bullets, hippos, and crocodiles, Grant finally emerges in war-torn Burundi, where he befriends some ethnic street gangsters and trails a notorious man-eating crocodile known as Gustave. He concludes his journey by interviewing the dictatorial president of Rwanda and visiting the true source of the Nile. Gripping, illuminating, sometimes harrowing, often hilarious, Crazy River is a brilliantly rendered account of a modern-day exploration of Africa, and the unraveling of Grant’s peeled, battered mind as he tries to take it all in.

Dispatches from Pluto

Author: Richard Grant
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781476709659
Release Date: 2015-10-13
Genre: Travel

Winner of the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize Mississippi's #1 Bestseller of 2015 and 2016 (The Clarion-Ledger) A New York Times Bestseller In Dispatches from Pluto, adventure writer Richard Grant takes on “the most American place on Earth”—the enigmatic, beautiful, often derided Mississippi Delta. Richard Grant and his girlfriend were living in a shoebox apartment in New York City when they decided on a whim to buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta. Dispatches from Pluto is their journey of discovery into this strange and wonderful American place. Imagine A Year In Provence with alligators and assassins, or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with hunting scenes and swamp-to-table dining. On a remote, isolated strip of land, three miles beyond the tiny community of Pluto, Richard and his girlfriend, Mariah, embark on a new life. They learn to hunt, grow their own food, and fend off alligators, snakes, and varmints galore. They befriend an array of unforgettable local characters—blues legend T-Model Ford, cookbook maven Martha Foose, catfish farmers, eccentric millionaires, and the actor Morgan Freeman. Grant brings an adept, empathetic eye to the fascinating people he meets, capturing the rich, extraordinary culture of the Delta, while tracking its utterly bizarre and criminal extremes. Reporting from all angles as only an outsider can, Grant also delves deeply into the Delta’s lingering racial tensions. He finds that de facto segregation continues. Yet even as he observes major structural problems, he encounters many close, loving, and interdependent relationships between black and white families—and good reasons for hope. Dispatches from Pluto is a book as unique as the Delta itself. It’s lively, entertaining, and funny, containing a travel writer’s flair for in-depth reporting alongside insightful reflections on poverty, community, and race. It’s also a love story, as the nomadic Grant learns to settle down. He falls not just for his girlfriend but for the beguiling place they now call home. Mississippi, Grant concludes, is the best-kept secret in America.

Rising Tide

Author: John M. Barry
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781416563327
Release Date: 2007-09-17
Genre: Social Science

An American epic of science, politics, race, honor, high society, and the Mississippi River, Rising Tide tells the riveting and nearly forgotten story of the greatest natural disaster this country has ever known -- the Mississippi flood of 1927. The river inundated the homes of nearly one million people, helped elect Huey Long governor and made Herbert Hoover president, drove hundreds of thousands of blacks north, and transformed American society and politics forever. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Lillian Smith Award.

High Cotton

Author: Gerard Helferich
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 9781496815729
Release Date: 2017-10-05
Genre: Nature

This dirt-under-the-fingernails portrait of a small-time farmer follows Zack Killebrew over a single year as he struggles to defend his cotton against such timeless adversaries as weeds, insects, and drought, as well as such twenty-first-century threats as globalization. Over the course of the season, Helferich describes how this singular crop has stamped American history and culture like no other. Then, as Killebrew prepares to harvest his cotton, two hurricanes named Katrina and Rita devastate the Gulf Coast and barrel inland. Killebrew's tale is at once a glimpse into our nation's past, a rich commentary on our present, and a plain-sighted vision of the future of farming in the Mississippi Delta. On first publication, High Cotton won the Authors Award from the Mississippi Library Association. This updated edition includes a new afterword, which resumes the story of Zack Killebrew and his family, discusses how cotton farming has continued to change, and shows how the Delta has retained its elemental character.

Delta Deep Down

Author: Jane Rule Burdine
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 1604730897
Release Date: 2008
Genre: Photography

The Mississippi Delta evokes mystery, beauty, and hardship in equal measures. Its haunted fields, turbulent history, and resilient people have fueled countless songs, tales, and literary works. Its presence resonates strongly in the construction of the American South. In Delta Deep Down, photographer Jane Rule Burdine captures the region with clarity and warmth. Since the early 1970s, Burdine has used the Delta as her muse, traversing and documenting the ever-changing landscape in color photographs. These powerful images reflect how the Delta and its citizens have responded to each other, and how each has in turn been changed. Weatherbeaten shacks, cotton and soybean fields, industrial equipment, people at work and play, and cloud-draped, endless horizons are all seen through Burdine's lens. The Delta's past and present mingle in every photograph of the inhabitants - black and white, young and old, rich and poor - in moments of contemplation, labor, and revelry. Novelist and Indianola native Steve Yarbrough offers a touching, personal introduction that explores how Burdine's photographs reveal the place he once called home, and how, through her photographs, the hold this fertile ground claims on his heart is reinforced. Delta Deep Down offers an unforgettable portrait of a quintessential Mississippi place and the people who abide in it.

Eat Drink Delta

Author: Susan Puckett
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
ISBN: 9780820344935
Release Date: 2013-01-01
Genre: Cooking

The Mississippi Delta is a complicated and fascinating place. Part travel guide, part cookbook, and part photo essay, Eat Drink Delta by veteran food journalist Susan Puckett (with photographs by Delta resident Langdon Clay) reveals a region shaped by slavery, civil rights, amazing wealth, abject deprivation, the Civil War, a flood of biblical proportions, and—above all—an overarching urge to get down and party with a full table and an open bar. There's more to Delta dining than southern standards. Puckett uncovers the stories behind convenience stores where dill pickles marinate in Kool-Aid and diners where tabouli appears on plates with fried chicken. She celebrates the region's hot tamale makers who follow the time-honored techniques that inspired many a blues lyric. And she introduces us to a new crop of Delta chefs who brine chicken in sweet tea and top stone-ground Mississippi grits with local pond-raised prawns and tomato confit. The guide also provides a taste of events such as Belzoni's World Catfish Festival and Tunica's Wild Game Cook-Off and offers dozens of tested recipes, including the Memphis barbecue pizza beloved by Elvis and a lemon ice-box pie inspired by Tennessee Williams. To William Faulkner's suggestion, “To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi,” Susan Puckett adds this advice: Go to the Delta with an open mind and an empty stomach. Make your way southward in a journey measured in meals, not miles.

American Nomads

Author: Richard Grant
Publisher: Grove Press
ISBN: 0802141803
Release Date: 2005-01
Genre: Travel

In a richly textured travelogue, a British journalist recounts his fifteen-year odyssey throughout the United States, examining the myths and realities of the wandering life as he recalls his encounters with America's nomads and traces the history of wanderers--cowboys, explorers, frontiersmen, trappers, and Native American warriors--in the New World. Reprint.

God s Middle Finger

Author: Richard Grant
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781416565710
Release Date: 2008-03-04
Genre: Travel

Twenty miles south of the Arizona-Mexico border, the rugged, beautiful Sierra Madre mountains begin their dramatic ascent. Almost 900 miles long, the range climbs to nearly 11,000 feet and boasts several canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon. The rules of law and society have never taken hold in the Sierra Madre, which is home to bandits, drug smugglers, Mormons, cave-dwelling Tarahumara Indians, opium farmers, cowboys, and other assorted outcasts. Outsiders are not welcome; drugs are the primary source of income; murder is all but a regional pastime. The Mexican army occasionally goes in to burn marijuana and opium crops -- the modern treasure of the Sierra Madre -- but otherwise the government stays away. In its stead are the drug lords, who have made it one of the biggest drug-producing areas in the world. Fifteen years ago, journalist Richard Grant developed what he calls "an unfortunate fascination" with this lawless place. Locals warned that he would meet his death there, but he didn't believe them -- until his last trip. During his travels Grant visited a folk healer for his insomnia and was prescribed rattlesnake pills, attended bizarre religious rituals, consorted with cocaine-snorting policemen, taught English to Guarijio Indians, and dug for buried treasure. On his last visit, his reckless adventure spiraled into his own personal heart of darkness when cocaine-fueled Mexican hillbillies hunted him through the woods all night, bent on killing him for sport. With gorgeous detail, fascinating insight, and an undercurrent of dark humor, God's Middle Finger brings to vivid life a truly unique and uncharted world.

Bandit Roads

Author: Richard Grant
Publisher: Abacus
ISBN: 9780748111749
Release Date: 2009-10-01
Genre: Travel

There are many ways to die in the Sierra Madre, a notorious nine-hundred-mile mountain range in northern Mexico where AK-47s are fetish objects, the law is almost non-existent and power lies in the hands of brutal drug mafias. Thousands of tons of opium and marijuana are produced there every year. Richard Grant thought it would be a good idea to travel the length of the Sierra Madre and write a book about it. He was warned before he left that he would be killed. But driven by what he calls 'an unfortunate fascination' for this mysterious region, Grant sets off anyway. In a remarkable piece of investigative writing, he evokes a sinister, surreal landscape of lonely mesas, canyons sometimes deeper than the Grand Canyon, hostile villages and an outlaw culture where homicide is the most common cause of death and grandmothers sell cocaine. Finally his luck runs out and he finds himself fleeing for his life, pursued by men who would murder a stranger in their territory 'to please the trigger finger'.

The World s Largest Man

Author: Harrison Scott Key
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062351524
Release Date: 2015-05-12
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Winner of the 2016 Thurber Prize The riotous, tender story of a bookish Mississippi boy and his flawed, Bunyanesque father, told with the comic verve of David Sedaris and the deft satire of Mark Twain or Roy Blount, Jr. Harrison Scott Key was born in Memphis, but he grew up in Mississippi, among pious, Bible-reading women and men who either shot things or got women pregnant. At the center of his world was his larger-than-life father—a hunter, a fighter, a football coach, “a man better suited to living in a remote frontier wilderness of the nineteenth century than contemporary America, with all its progressive ideas, and paved roads, and lack of armed duels. He was a great man, and he taught me many things: How to fight, how to work, how to cheat, how to pray to Jesus about it, how to kill things with guns and knives and, if necessary, with hammers.” Harrison, with his love of books and excessive interest in hugging, couldn’t have been less like Pop, and when it became clear that he was not able to kill anything very well or otherwise make his father happy, he resolved to become everything his father was not: an actor, a Presbyterian, and a doctor of philosophy. But when it was time to settle down and start a family of his own, Harrison started to view his father in a new light, and realized—for better and for worse—how much of his old man he’d absorbed. Sly, heartfelt, and tirelessly hilarious, The World’s Largest Man is an unforgettable memoir—the story of a boy’s struggle to reconcile himself with an impossibly outsized role model, a grown man’s reckoning with the father it took him a lifetime to understand.

Driving Hungry

Author: Layne Mosler
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780345802682
Release Date: 2015-07-14
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Adrift in Buenos Aires, Layne Mosler was hungry—for an excellent (and cheap) meal, for a great story, for a new direction. A chance recommendation from a taxi driver helped her find all these things, and sparked a quest that would take her to three cities, meeting people from all walks of life, and finding an array of unexpected flavors. A story about following your passion, the pleasures of not always knowing your destination, and the beauty of chance encounters, Driving Hungry is a vivid, and inspiring, read from first to last.

The Song and the Silence

Author: Yvette Johnson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781476754963
Release Date: 2017-05-09
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

In this “beautiful, evocative” (Booklist, starred review) memoir, Yvette Johnson travels to the Mississippi Delta to uncover the moving, true story of her late grandfather Booker Wright, whose extraordinary act of courage would change his and, later, her life forever. “Have to keep that smile,” Booker Wright said in the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a “whites only” restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the Civil Rights Movement. For he did the unthinkable: speaking in front of a national audience, he described what daily life was truly like for black people of Greenwood, Mississippi. Four decades later, Yvette Johnson, Wright’s granddaughter, found footage of the controversial documentary. No one in her family knew of his television appearance. Even more curious for Johnson was that for most of her life she’d barely heard mention of her grandfather’s name. Born a year after Wright’s death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race in the way Southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful Delta town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather’s compelling and ultimately tragic story, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, and forgiveness. “With profound insight and unwavering compassion, Johnson weaves an unforgettable story” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) about her journey in pursuit of her family’s past—and ultimately finding a hopeful vision of the future for us all.

Oxford and Ole Miss

Author: Jack Lamar Mayfield
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
ISBN: 0738566144
Release Date: 2009
Genre: History

Oxford and Lafayette County were formed from the Pontotoc Treaty and the Chickasaw Cession of 1832 and the revised agreement in 1834. This treaty with the Chickasaws ceded land that formed 12 counties in North Mississippi. On June 22, 1836, three land speculators, John Martin, John Chisom, and John Craig, donated 50 acres to the Board of Police for the formation of the city of Oxford. The name Oxford was proposed by a nephew of John Craig, Thomas D. Isom, who worked for him in his trading post, in hopes that the state legislature would place the new state university there. Oxford was chartered by the State of Mississippi on May 11, 1837. The University of Mississippi opened its doors in 1848.

Teacher

Author: Michael Copperman
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 9781496805867
Release Date: 2016-08-25
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

When Michael Copperman left Stanford University for the Mississippi Delta in 2002, he imagined he would lift underprivileged children from the narrow horizons of rural poverty. Well-meaning but naïve, the Asian American from the West Coast soon lost his bearings in a world divided between black and white. He had no idea how to manage a classroom or help children navigate the considerable challenges they faced. In trying to help students, he often found he couldn’t afford to give what they required—sometimes with heartbreaking consequences. His desperate efforts to save child after child were misguided but sincere. He offered children the best invitations to success he could manage. But he still felt like an outsider who was failing the children and himself. Teach For America has for a decade been the nation’s largest employer of recent college graduates but has come under increasing criticism in recent years even as it has grown exponentially. This memoir considers the distance between the idealism of the organization’s creed that “One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education and reach their full potential” and what it actually means to teach in America’s poorest and most troubled public schools. Copperman’s memoir vividly captures his disorientation in the divided world of the Delta, even as the author marvels at the wit and resilience of the children in his classroom. To them, he is at once an authority figure and a stranger minority than even they are—a lone Asian, an outsider among outsiders. His journey is of great relevance to teachers, administrators, and parents longing for quality education in America. His frank story shows that the solutions for impoverished schools are far from simple.