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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to feature all the books we receive.
The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and his People
By Rick Bragg, Knopf, $20.58 (pet grief/humor) The Pulitzer Prize-winning author from Alabama shares the story of how his life – full of uncertainty from a cancer diagnosis, chemo, kidney failure and recurring pneumonia – was transformed by his love for a poorly behaved, half-blind stray pup. Written with tenderness and sorrow, but also humor and grit, the book captures the devotion between two damaged creatures who need each other to heal.
Deep South Dynasty: The Bankheads of Alabama
By Kari Frederickson, University of Alabama Press, $39.95 (history) From Reconstruction through the end of World War II, the Bankheads served as the principal architects of the political, economic and cultural framework of Alabama and the greater South. As a family, they were instrumental in fashioning the New South and the 20th century American political economy. This biography examines the complicated and evolving world of three generations of the Bankhead family of northwest Alabama.
A Culinary Tour Through Alabama History
By Monica Tapper, Arcadia Publishing, $21.99 (gastronomy history) This gustatory journey through Alabama history seeks to capture the lives of regular people, not celebrities, who lived in different eras. The author, a historian from Alabama, says it’s a snapshot of the lives of people from the past, using the physical connection to food. Each location highlighted – Gaines Ridge, the Grand Hotel, and Belle Mont mansion, to name a few – had to be historically significant, providing a tie to the diners who came before us.
It Should Not Happen in America: From Selma to Wall Street – A Journey of Fire and Faith
By Richard Scrushy, NewSouth Books, $27.95 (memoir) The book details the events surrounding the legal battles of Scrushy, who in 2004 was one of the South’s wealthiest men and CEO of one of America’s most profitable health care corporations. Scrushy was indicted on federal bribery and mail fraud charges and found guilty in 2006; he was sentenced to almost seven years in federal prison. He maintains his innocence, and in his book claims that “corruption and vice embedded in the American legal system must stop.”
Charlie Brown’s America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts
By Blake Scott Ball, Oxford University Press, $34.95 (cultural history) For nearly 50 years, Peanuts was a mainstay of American popular culture. Most readers associate the comic strip with the innocence of childhood, not social and political turmoil. The author, an assistant professor of history at Huntingdon College, combs through thousands of fan letters, interviews with Charles Schulz and behind-the-scenes documents to reveal that Schulz used the strip to project his ideas and comment on the rapidly changing politics of America.
In Harm’s Way: A History of the American Military Experience
By Gene Allen Smith, David Coffey and Kyle Longley, Oxford University Press, $44.99 (military history) Covering air, land and sea power, the book provides a synthesis and analysis of America’s wars and military policies from colonial times to the 21st century. The book covers political and diplomatic challenges, social and economic changes, philosophical and ideological debates and technological advances, but focuses on the experiences of American people at war. Co-author Smith is an Albertville native and earned three degrees at Auburn University.