Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A book recommendation

I recently read A Hanging in Nacogdoches: Murder, Race, Politics, and Polemics in Texas's Oldest Town, 1870-1916 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006, 209 pages), by Gary B. Borders. It has murder and intrigue, politics and race relations. The main characters are (1) Jim Buchanan, who was accused of and confessed to the murders of the Hicks family of the Black Jack community; (2) Bill Haltom, the newspaper editor who stirred the issue and stirred particularly in relation to his nemesis, (3) A. J. Spradley, the popular Populist sheriff who traipsed Buchanan around parts of East Texas to keep him from being lynched before his trial. Spradley would later refer to Buchanan's hanging as a "legal lynching".

Archie McDonald of
Stephen F. Austin State University and the East Texas Historical Association writes, "The contribution of A Hanging in Nacogdoches is not limited to that city, East Texas, or even the state....The purpose of the author's presentation is to show life—race relations, politics, the economy—in a typical...Southern town at the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Borders argues, and demonstrates, that Nacogdoches was, indeed, typical for its time and place."

Gary Borders is past editor of the
Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel and currently the publisher of the Lufkin Daily News.

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