Mississippi Books and Writers

February 1998

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

The Ghosts of Medgar Evers: A Tale of Race, Murder, Mississippi, and HollywoodThe Ghosts of Medgar Evers: A Tale of Race, Murder, Mississippi, and Hollywood

Nonfiction by Willie Morris

Random House (Paperback, $23.00, ISBN: 0679459561)

Publication date: February 1998

Description from Booklist (1 January 1998):

Everyone is a critic, except the occasional saint. The professional or citizen critic whose opinions are well publicized wields power that can be capricious, even deadly. Morris, former editor in chief of Harper’s, has written a multilayered study of the critical reception of the film Ghosts of Mississippi. Rob Reiner’s film, based on fact, is about Mississippi assistant D.A. Bobby DeLaughter (Alec Baldwin) reopening the case against Byron de la Beckwith (James Woods) for the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and, with the aid of the widow Evers (Whoopi Goldberg), bringing the murderer to justice. The book reads like a series of long magazine articles. The first is a paean to a place that lives in other people’s infamy, and here Mississippian Morris introduces the idea of the subjective nature of opinion, carried through in the other “articles” about the actual filming in Mississippi and the special previews around the U.S. Finally, enter the critics. Apparently, the Variety critic was appalled at the filmmakers for making a film based on an actual event: “When future generations turn to this era’s movies for an account of the struggles for racial justice in America, they’ll learn the surprising lesson that such battles were fought and won by square-jawed white boys.” Morris writes, “Soon Rob Reiner would be like Brer Rabbit getting stuck in the Tar Baby.” Spike Lee went to the mat in protest of the “white heroes.” Roger Ebert couldn’t believe that Myrlie Evers wasn’t the star. In the end, the film failed at the box office, and Morris haunts the film’s Mississippi locations, pondering the ghosts of racial healing and progress. Copyright © 1998, American Library Association. All rights reserved

Real Power: Lessons for Business from the Tao Te Ching

By James A. Autry and Stephen Mitchell

Riverhead Books (Hardcover, ISBN: 1573220892)

Publication date: February 1998

Blues Boy: The Life and Music of B.B. King

(American Made Music Series)

By Sebastian Danchin

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $28.00 ISBN: 1578060176)

Publication date: February 1998

The Street LawyerThe Street Lawyer

A Novel by John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 0385490992)

Publication date: February 1998


John Grisham is back with his latest courtroom conundrum, The Street Lawyer. This time the lord of legal thrillers dives deep into the world of the homeless, particularly their barely audible legal voice in a world dominated by large, all-powerful law firms. Our hero, Michael Brock, is on the fast track to partnership at D.C.’s premier law firm, Sweeny & Drake. His dream of someday raking in a million-plus a year is finally within reach. Nothing can stop him, not even 90-hour workweeks and a failing marriage—until he meets DeVon Hardy, a.k.a. “Mister,” a Vietnam vet with a grudge against his landlordand a few lawyers to fry. Hardy, with no clear motive, takes Brock and eight of his colleagues hostage in a boardroom, demanding their tax returns and interrogating them with a conviction that would have put perpetrators of the Spanish Inquisition to shame. Hardy, a man of few words and a lot of ammunition, mumbles cryptically, “Who are the evictors?” as he points a .44 automatic within inches of Brock’s face. The violent outcome of the hostage situation triggers an abrupt soul-searching for the young lawyer, and Hardy’s mysterious question continues to haunt him. Brock learns that Hardy had been in and out of homeless shelters most of his life, but he had recently begun paying rent in a rundown building; that means he has legal recourse when a big money-making outfit such as Sweeny & Drake boots him with no warning. When Brock realizes that his profession caters to the morally challenged, he sets out on an aimless search through the dicier side of D.C., ending up at the 14th Street Legal Clinic. The clinic’s director, a gargantuan man named Mordecai Green, woos Brock to the clinic with a $90,000 cut in pay and the chance to redeem his soul. Brock takes itand some of the story’s credibility along with it; it’s hard to believe that a Yale graduate who sacrificed everythingincluding his marriageto succeed in the legal profession would quickly jump at the opportunity for low-paying, charitable work. However, Brock’s search for corruption in the swanky upper echelons of Sweeny & Drake (via the toughest streets of D.C.) is filled with colorful characters and realistic, gritty descriptions. In The Street Lawyer, Grisham once again defends the voiceless and powerless. In the words of Mordecai Green, “That’s justice, Michael. That’s what street law is all about. Dignity.”

The PartnerThe Partner

A Novel by John Grisham

Dell (Paperback, $7.99, ISBN: 0440224764)

Publication date: February 1998


Patrick Lanigan had a bright future as a young partner in a prominent Southern law firm. Then one cold winter night, he was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death; the casket they buried held nothing but his ashes. A short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial, then fled. A fortune was stolen from his ex-firm’s offshore account. Patrick ran, covering his tracks the whole waybut not far enough or fast enough. It began when he disappeared. But it really didn’t start until they found him.

Mortal FearMortal Fear

A Novel by Greg Iles

Signet (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0451180410)

Publication date: February 1998


Harper Cole’s a hacker at heart, and indulges a number of vices at once by running an erotic electronic bulletin board from his country home on the Mississippi Delta. Unfortunately, a serial killer is also indulging himselfand using Harper’s service to find his victims. When Harper discovers that a woman who stopped logging on to his board has been brutally murdered in New Orleans, he goes to the police, only to find that several other former users have also died violently. Under suspicion himself, Harper must use all the online wizardry at his disposal to trick and capture a brilliant, kinky killer.

Success for Dummies

By Zig Ziglar

IDG Books Worldwide (Paperback, $19.99, ISBN: 0764550616)

Publication date: February 1998


This inspirational guide offers down-to-earth advice for measuring success in all areasat home, work, in relationships, and more. Popular motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar tells readers how to take a personal inventory of their accomplishments and determine their next set of goals. Readers benefit from simple, practical tips on improving their lives and feeling great. Cartoon illustrations.

The Destructive Element: New and Selected Poems

By Turner Cassity

Ohio University Press (Hardcover, $29.95, ISBN: 0821412213)

Publication date: February 1998

Watching Our Crops Come In Watching Our Crops Come In

Nonfiction by Clifton L. Taulbert

Penguing (Paperback, $9.95, ISBN: 0140244344)

Publication date: February 1998

Description from Kirkus Reviews (1 December 1996):

A tepid recollection of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War from a man who watched both primarily from the sidelines. The third of Taulbert’s memoirs (When We Were Colored, 1989; The Last Train North, 1992), this entry follows him through the 1960s, when as an enlistee in the US Air Force, he was saved by a special assignment from having to serve in Vietnam; he was equally, he claims, “prohibited by [his] uniform from joining the fight for freedom back home.” Taulbert left the Mississippi Delta at the age of 17 to join his father in St. Louis. He joined the Air Force in 1964 and was given a “classified position” in data processing at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. From that vantage point he watched “scores of airmen shipped off to a war to ensure democracy, even though,” he notes, “it was not fully realized here at home.” During his years in the nation’s capital, he closely observed the marches and riots that tore apart the country and noted the changes wrought by the movement on his own hometown. He was astonished to see “blacks and whites working together for social change.” His mother, Mary, became the director of the local Head Start project; family members and friends became activists. An admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Taulbert stubbornly dismisses black power leaders such as H. Rap Brown as “northern cousins” who “had not marched in Selma or faced the dogs in Montgomery.” Well, neither did he, and his lack of involvement waters down his occasional perceptive observations. Disillusioned by the assassinations of King and Robert F. Kennedy, Taulbert regarded the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign as a grave disappointment. His lack of real engagement, his repeated references to “coloreds,” and his attribution of Brer Rabbit dialect to residents of his hometown (“ther wuz angels coming ... more than I could eber count”) will not play well with most readers. —Copyright © 1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

The FriendshipThe Friendship

By Mildred D. Taylor

Puffin (Paperback, $4.99, ISBN: 0140389644)

Publication date: February 1998 (reprint edition)

Description from Horn Book Magazine:

Eloquent in both its brevity and understatement, the story underlines the author’s skill in drawing from her family’s experiences to enlarge her readers’ understanding of a dark and still unresolved heritage.

The Gold CadillacThe Gold Cadillac: A Fancy New Car and an Unforgettable Drive

By Mildred D. Taylor

Puffin (Paperback, $4.99, ISBN: 0140389636)

Publication date: February 1998 (reprint edition)

Description from Ingram:

Lois and Wilma are proud of their father’s brand-new gold Cadillac, and excited that the family will be driving in it all the way from Ohio to Mississippi. But as they travel deeper into the rural South, there are no admiring glances for the shiny new car—only suspicion and anger for the black man behind the wheel. Black & white illustrations.

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