The Postwar Years 1945 To 1974

In his kaleidoscopic novel U.S.A., a trilogy published between 1930 and 1936, John Dos Passos offered a descriptive line that has always stayed with me. America, he wrote, is “a public library full of… dog-eared history books with protests scrawled on the margins.” Historical writing at its best is composed not only of facts but of thoughts and directions. And in this fastpaced country, where currents are very much subject to abrupt change, it is often hard for a history book to take root.Read more »

Memphis

A gracious antebellum city of stern-wheelers and cotton money; a restless, violent city with a hot grain of genius at its heart; a city of calamity, desolation, and rebirth; a city that changed the way the whole world hears music. It’s all the same city, and it is this year’s Great American Place. Thomas Childers answers a summons to Memphis, Tennessee.

Bales of cotton no longer accumulate along the riverbank, but a small fleet of stern-wheelers still serves the Memphis waterfront.
 

When the phone rang and I heard the familiar voice of an old family friend inviting me to visit him in his hometown of Memphis, I was intrigued.

 

“Hopped-up Country”

The guitar pickin' kid called himself Elvis Presley

As a teenager I liked the sound of guitar music, and I practiced until I was fairly proficient at picking out tunes. Later I got an electric guitar, and lots of noise became my best creation, musically. After graduating from high school, I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, and worked days and picked nights. I met Hank Williams, Sr., and saw Hank junior as a diaper baby in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport. Later they moved to Nashville. Read more »