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Alabama Bookshelf

“Selma: A Bicentennial History,” by Alston Fitts III, University of Alabama Press, 2016, $39.95 (history). The book is a revised and expanded version of Fitts’ history of Selma originally published in 1989, including new illustrations and details of events that shaped Selma’s growth and development from 1815 to the end of the 20th century. Fitts, a native of Tuscaloosa, served for many years as the director of information and principal fundraiser for the Selma-based Edmundite Missions, a Catholic organization.

“The Axeman of New Orleans: The True Story,” by Miriam C. Davis, Chicago Review Press, March 2017, $26.99 (true crime/history).  Montgomery resident and Alabama Living contributor Miriam C. Davis brings to light the facts of a Jack-the-Ripper-style killing spree that terrorized New Orleans in the 1910s. For nearly a decade an ax-wielding killer preyed on Italian grocers in their homes at night, leaving his victims in a pool of blood. The book includes new evidence that the suspect most commonly tied to the case could not have committed the crimes and thus the real killer may never be known.

“Footprints in Stone: Fossil Traces of Coal-Age Tetrapods” by Ronald J. Buta and David C. Kopaska-Merkel, University of Alabama Press, 2016, $49.95 (natural history/paleontology). The book tells the story behind the discovery, documentation and preservation of the Union Chapel coal mine in Walker County, where footprints of primitive creatures in the dark gray shale give important information on the ecosystem that existed during the coal age, more than 300 million years ago.

“Mr. Brandon’s School Bus: What I Heard on the Way to School,” by Tom Brandon, NewSouth Books, 2016, $15.95  (humor). Teacher Tom Brandon drives his school bus twice a day in rural Madison County, Alabama, and over the 30 years of his career he’s heard some hilarious tales from the mouths of the schoolchildren he’s transported to and from Walnut Grove Elementary. The book is a compilation of those stories, some of which he previously documented on his blog,

“Historic Alabama Courthouses: A Century of Their Images and Stories,” by Delos Hughes, NewSouth Books, 2017, $25.95 (architecture/history). If you’ve ever been curious about the history of your county courthouse, this book could provide some fascinating details. Organized alphabetically, from the Autauga County Courthouse in Prattville to the Winston County Courthouse in Double Springs, the book features historical, architectural, social, legal and political information and photographs of more than 120 buildings. The author is an Auburn native whose previous book is “Lost Auburn: A Village Remembered in Period Photographs” (2012).

In this periodic feature, we highlight books either about Alabama people or events or written by Alabama authors. Summaries are not reviews or endorsements. We also occasionally highlight book-related events. Email submissions to