Monday, January 14, 2013

Delta Magazine honors region with new book


             Delta Magazine commemorates 10 years of publishing with a gorgeous coffee table book that honors the people, land and traditions of Mississippi.
            “The Delta: Landscapes, Legends and Legacies of Mississippi’s Most Storied Region,” edited by Melissa Townsend with a foreword by Luther Brown, compiles essays, magazine features, interviews and exquisite photos from the first 60 issues of the magazine starting in 2003. The book veers from an essay by renowned artist William Dunlap to a photo of Robert Johnson’s grave, from remembering blues legend “Son” Thomas and Delta writers and artists to showcasing “Delta characters.” And the “Classic Delta Cuisine” chapter will make you want to jump in your car and head to Mississippi.
            What readers will learn is that so much of America’s culture derives from the Delta, whether it’s a tale told by William Faulkner, a film starring Morgan Freeman or Muddy Waters singing the blues. Aretha Franklin’s father pastured a church in Sunflower and Michelle Obama’s great grandparents sharecropped near Lamont, reminds us Brown in the foreword.
            “It’s a story that should be more widely told, about a great place filled with creative and persevering people who take pride in their home and their lives,” Brown writes. “It’s a Delta story that is an American story.”
            For more information and to purchase a copy, visit Paul Michael in Monroe, or the magazine’s web site, deltamagazine.com.

Arcadia history
            Arcadia Publishing has two new books out involving Louisiana history — “Louisiana’s Oil Heritage” and “Scott,” both part of the publisher’s “Images of America” series.
            “Louisiana’s Oil Heritage” by Tonja Koob Marking and Jennifer Snape takes readers from W. Scott Heywood’s first successful oil well on the Mamou Prairie, now Jennings, to the Caddo Oilfield. The book looks at the state’s industry origins within the different regions, oil transportation (including by mule and small boat), life in the camps and celebrating the oil industry with special events.
            Arcadia’s “Scott” was produced by the Scott Historical and Genealogical Society and follows the history of the town from a farming community to arrival of the railroad and its being named “Where the West Begins.” Photos of early settlers are included, as are famous residents such as Zachard Richard, as well as businesses, landmarks, homes, schools and churches. There are nods to sports and those who served in the military and a nice chapter on “everyday life.”
            Both can be found at local bookstores and online at www.arcadiapublishing.com, but here’s a great way to get a free copy of “Scott.” Can you identify the person in the photo above? If you can, you win a free book! Email me at chere@louisianabooknews.com with who you think is pictured and the first person to correctly identify the man wins.

Acadian history
            There are three new books published on Acadian history.
            UL Press has published “Histoire des Acadiennes et Acadiens de la Louisiane,” authored by musician, author, documentarian and cultural activist Zachary Richard of Scott. The French edition is intended for French immersion students in Louisiana studies but is also an excellent guide to Acadian/Cajun history and culture.
            For those who want a guide to Acadian history in English, Oxford University Press has published “The Acadian Diaspora: An Eighteenth-Century History” by Christopher Hodson, assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University. The book focuses on le grand derangement of the Acadians from the Maritime Provinces of Canada beginning in 1755.
            Journalist Richard Holledge first heard of the Acadians and their history when he was on assignment for The Times of London, writing a piece about Tabasco. His exposure to Cajun Country resulted in his novel, “The Scattered,” about the Acadian Diaspora, available on Amazon.com.
            “A few years later, by chance,” Holledge writes in the book’s foreword, “I was reading ‘Crucible of War,’ an account of the battle for power in North America between France and Britain by historian Fred Anderson, who described the expulsion as ‘chillingly reminiscent of modern ethnic cleansing’ operations…executed with a coldness and calculation rarely seen in other wartime operations.”
            In “The Scattered,” Holledge follows a group of exiles from Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, to France and eventually Louisiana. 

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Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com.