Mississippi Books and Writers

April 2001

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

The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won

Juvenile Nonfiction by Stephen E. Ambrose

Atheneum (Hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 0689843615)

Publication date: April 2001


Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the finest historians of our time, has written an extraordinary chronicle of World War II for young readers. From Japanese warplanes soaring over Pearl Harbor, dropping devastation from the sky, to the against-all-odds Allied victory at Midway, to the Battle of the Bulge during one of the coldest winters in Europe’s modern history, to the tormenting decision to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic weapons, The Good Fight brings the most horrific—and most heroic—war in history to a new generation in a way that’s never been done before.

In addition to Ambrose’s accounts of major events during the war, personal anecdotes from the soldiers who were fighting on the battlefields, manning the planes, commanding the ships—stories of human triumph and tragedy—bring the war vividly to life.

Highlighting Ambrose’s narrative are spectacular color and black-and-white photos, and key campaign and battlefield maps. Stephen E. Ambrose’s singular ability to take complex and multifaceted information and get right to its essence makes The Good Fight the book on World War II for kids.

Billy Ray's Farm Fay

A Novel by Larry Brown

Scribner’s (Paperback, $14.00, ISBN: 0743205383)

Publication date: April 2001

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

The search for love and family has seldom been portrayed with such harsh realism as in this almost literally stunning fourth novel by the highly acclaimed Mississippi author. Brown’s first substantial female protagonist, Fay Jones, is a 17-year-old virginal beauty who runs away from her mean and drunken father and impoverished family (migrant workers camped near Oxford, Mississippi) in a vividly detailed opening sequence that recalls the beginning of Faulkner’s classic Light in August. Fay is a complete innocent, can scarcely read, has never seen a movie or used a pay phone. State trooper Sam Harris finds her hitchhiking and brings her home, where his wife Amy (still grieving over the accidental death of their teenaged daughter) essentially adopts her. But a chain of bizarre coincidences ends this idyllic family relationship, and Fay is soon on the road again, now pregnant, and easy prey (as she moves south, to Biloxi) for a hard-bitten waitress who pushes her toward stripping, then for easygoing Aaron Forrest, who turns out to be an unstable drug dealer.

The story builds terrific momentum as things continue to go hopelessly wrong for Fay. She leaves Aaron, attempting to return to Sam, and the three converge in a skillfully deployed and violent finale that confirms Brown’s close kinship both with crime novelist Jim Thompson and with that underrated master of literate southern melodrama, Erskine Caldwell. The novel is probably too long, and it goes egregiously over the top at least once (in depicting an airplane pilot’s fate). But it’s filled with spare, precise, musical, observantly detailed prose and hair-raising extended scenes (an account of the effort to rescue a gas-truck driver from a flaming wreck is a piece of action writing few contemporary authors could match). Fay herself is an intensely real character, and Brown (Father and Son, 1996, etc.) tells her lurid, sorrowful story magnificently. Close to a masterpiece. —Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


Billy Ray's Farm Billy Ray’s Farm: Essays

Nonfiction by Larry Brown

Algonquin Books (Hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 1565121678)

Publication date: April 2001

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Celebrated for depicting the dark, seamy side of Southern life, Mississippi novelist Brown (Fay; Father and Son) turns to sunnier topics in this loose-jointed collection of essays paying tribute to the people and places that influenced his writing. The title piece, a rueful reflection on son Billy Ray’s persistent bad luck with cattle, sets the tone: despite dead calves, misbehaving bulls, rampaging coyotes and dilapidated fences, father and son remain optimistic. “Billy Ray’s farm does not yet exist on an earthly plane,” writes Brown. “On Billy Ray’s farm there will be total harmony, wooden fence rows straight as a plumb line, clean, with no weeds, no rusted barbed wire.” As Brown details his own efforts to impose harmony on his farm by building a house (“Shack”), protecting his stock from predators (“Goatsongs”), clearing brush and stocking fish (“By the Pond”), he balances pastoral odes with a clear-eyed accounting of the costs of country living. That realism gives Brown’s narratives a plainspoken truth that makes more believable the simple pleasures he takes in these simple tasks. The writer’s home life in Oxford, Miss., is more compelling than his chronicles of book tours and writers conferences (“The Whore in Me”), but the latter is kept to a minimum. More successful are the tributes to literary mentors Harry Crews and Madison Jones and to the men who taught him “the fine points of guns and dogs” after his father’s death, when Brown was 16. These humble personal essays, which provide a glimpse at the long apprenticeship of a writer who came up the hard way, leave the reader hoping Brown will soon tackle a full-blown autobiography.

Taps Taps

Fiction by Willie Morris

Houghton Mifflin (Hardcover, $26.00, ISBN: 0618098593)

Publication date: April 2001

Description from Booklist:

Morris died in 1999, and it’s hard to accept that this is his last book. The gritty but poignant writings of the Mississippian who served as editor at Harper’s in the 1960s have included a book about his childhood dog and one about his cat, but most famously, North Toward Home (1967), in which he recalled the South of his childhood. Taps is a summary statement of Morris’ fondness for the Mississippi where he came of age, and as such, the novel reads like a memoir of childhood and youth. The main character is Swayze Barksdale, who, at age 16, is busy gathering impressions of the adult world at a time when the Korean War is waging. A trumpet player, Swayze has plenty of opportunity to observe those around him when he plays “Taps” at the funerals of deceased hometown GIs. Swayze has a best friend, who teaches him about companionship; he has a girlfriend, who teaches him about early love and sexuality; and he has an adult friend, whose life and death teach Swayze the ultimate lessons in love and loss. Plotlines are kept to a minimum; this is a novel of characters rather than story, and what delicious, real, and beautifully conceived characters they are. Times were simpler in the 1950s, but this is not a simple novel. It’s a deep and enriching last act for the delightful Willie Morris. —Brad Hooper Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Edge of Victory I: Conquest Edge of Victory I: Conquest

By Greg Keyes

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, Book 7

Del Rey (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0345428641)

Publication date: April 2001


The dazzling Star Wars space adventure continues in The New Jedi Order as Luke Skywalker, Anakin Solo, Mara Jade Skywalker, and others battle their deadliest enemy in a tale of nonstop action, shadowy evil, and spectacular triumph.

No longer content with the destruction the Yuuzhan Vong have already sown, Warmaster Tsavong Lah has demanded the heads of all the Jedi. Now the Jedi Knights are in terrible danger–and none more so than the young students at the Jedi academy on Yavin 4. Already the sympathizers known as the Peace Brigade are in the Yavin system—and a Yuuzhan Vong fleet is not far behind.

At Luke Skywalker’s request, Talon Karrde mounts an expedition to rescue the young students. Anakin Solo has his own ideas. Impatient, and figuring that forgiveness is easier to come by than permission, he takes off for Yavin 4 in his X-wing.

When it comes to confidence, courage, and raw Force talent, Anakin has few peers. But when his friend Tahiri is separated from the other academy kids and captured by the Yuuzhan Vong, even Anakin may be in over his head. For the aliens have a different future in mind for Tahiri, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their horrific ends….

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