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'Freedom Fighters And Hell Raisers' Resurrects Storied Southerners

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Courtesy of Hal Crowther
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Hal Crowther has a fascination with getting people’s stories right, especially after they are gone. It started with the death of his beloved great-grandmother Mary Ann Naylor Crowther. When the 94-year-old passed away, he realized that deceased people are often “defenselessness as others tell their stories and rank their accomplishments.” 

Crowther’s latest book is his effort to tell the stories of prominent departed Southerners with nuance and intimacy. The essays contained in the book feature profiles of journalist Molly Ivins, conservative firebrand Jesse Helms and civil rights activist John Hope Franklin, among others.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with award-winning journalist and essayist Crowther about the collection “Freedom Fighters and Hell Raisers: A Gallery of Memorable Southerners” (Blair/2018). Crowther reads from the book on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. at McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro. 

Hal Crowther's 8 Essential Reads by 'Memorable Southerners'

1. Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose 
"Molly's satirical voice at its lacerating best."

2. Mirror to America by John Hope Franklin
"The inimitable autobiography of one of America's most uncompromising African-American intellectuals."  

3. The Dream of the Earth by Father Thomas Berry
"A masterpiece of  environmental philosophy, by one of the most original thinkers of the 20th century."

4. Why Not Become Fire?: Encounters With Women Mystics by Sister Evelyn Mattern
"A spiritual journey with the poet and nun, one of North Carolina's irreplaceable moral giants."

5. River of Earth by James Still
"The first iconic Appalachian novel, a universally acclaimed masterwork by the neglected literary genius of rural Kentucky."

6. Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey by Marshall Frady
"Profiles of remarkable Southerners by one of the most original literary stylists the South has produced."

7. A Fine Disregard: What Makes Modern Art Modern by Kirk Varnedoe
"Modern art explained and championed by one of the foremost art historians of his generation."

8. Brother to a Dragonfly by Will Campbell
"A celebrated memoir by the most unforgettable Baptist minister who ever graced the Southland."

Laura Pellicer is a digital producer with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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