Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Ralph Bowden

Unsung Heroes of a Neglected Region

Michael E. Birdwell and W. Calvin Dickinson have collected fifteen essays on the history of the Upper Cumberland

January 28, 2016 The Upper Cumberland region—i.e. the watershed counties of the upstream half of the Cumberland River in Kentucky and Tennessee—was relatively isolated for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; as a result, it was neglected by historians. Its history is rich and worth investigating, however, as editors Michael E. Birdwell and W. Calvin Dickinson prove with People of the Upper Cumberland.

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A Hidden Mission and Adventure

Karen Spears Zacharias’s newest novel, Burdy, is a sequel to Mother of Rain

January 22, 2016 Burdy is Karen Spears Zacharias’ second novel based on Christian Bend, “a way-back place” in the mountains of East Tennessee. It features Burdy, one of the vividly-drawn characters of that tiny community, as she tracks down a townsman presumed dead after the Normandy invasion.

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Death of an Island

Michael Crummey’s Sweetland is a novel of community, loss, and solitude

October 5, 2015 In Sweetland, Newfoundland poet and novelist Michael Crummey has crafted a moving tale of mortality, both communal and individual. He will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 9-11, 2015.

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Dr. Brockton’s World Collapses

In a new Body Farm novel, Jefferson Bass heaps Job-like catastrophes on the famous forensic anthropologist

June 4, 2015 In The Breaking Point, their ninth Body Farm novel, Jon Jefferson and Bill Bass, collectively known as Jefferson Bass, inflict every possible personal and professional disaster on their protagonist, Bill Brockton. He should break, but will he? Jefferson Bass will appear this month in Maryville, Nashville, Memphis, and at several Knoxville locations.

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A new essay collection edited by Kristopher Ray provides a scholarly look at Tennessee’s origins

March 26, 2014 In Before the Volunteer State, Kristofer Ray has gathered essays from eight scholars that add layers of complexity to the superficial story Tennesseans learn in school. The real story of Tennessee begins much earlier, in the anthropological records left by Native Americans as they adapted to European contacts. Then came the influx of settlers and frontier fortune hunters, and then the wars. The birth of Tennessee was not as simple, painless, or edifying as we may have thought.

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Memphis, Key to the Mississippi

Edward B. McCaul Jr. examines the Civil War struggle for control of the Mississippi River

January 22, 2015 To Retain Command of the Mississippi is Edward McCaul’s thorough look at everything—strategy, politics, personnel, boats, technology, and battles—connected with the campaign to establish control of the Mississippi during the first two years of the Civil War. McCaul argues that the river battle at Memphis could have gone the other way, with consequences that might have led to Confederate independence.

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