11 months ago

Sixteen must-read books by Alabama authors

With 2019 just around the corner, many of us are starting to map out our New Year’s resolutions, lists of goals and annual plans.

Reading more books seems to be a perennial goal for many people, but where to start? Well, if you’re an Alabamian, here are 16 books by Alabama authors — broken down into a handful of different categories, depending on what you’re looking for — that could get your year started off right.

Faith

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

When David Platt wrote this New York Times Bestseller in 2014, he was pastor of Birmingham’s Church at Brook Hills.

From Multnomah: “In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple — then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a ‘successful’ suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.”

How to Be a Man: Pursuing Christ-Centered Masculinity by Rick Burgess 

From YM360: “Manhood is in crisis. In the majority of our churches, men make up the minority of regular attenders, and many of the men who show up on Sunday mornings are disconnected from the work and life of the church. How can men become who God wants them to be? And what does it even mean to be a man anyway? The truth is that it’s impossible to be a man without grounding your definition of manhood in the person of Christ… Using 8 core characteristics, this devotional experience will challenge men to exemplify these in their own lives as they passionately pursue a Christ-centered manhood.”

The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm and Love Well in a Culture of Compromise by Chris Hodges

From Thomas Nelson: “Christians today face a dilemma: in a world that seems to reject everything we believe, how do we walk closely with God without caving to pressure or alienating those we hope to reach? In this eye-opening new book, Chris Hodges, pastor of Alabama’s Church of the Highlands, provides a solution by examining the life of the prophet Daniel, who persevered in a corrupt culture that closely resembles our own—and emerged as an influential force in God’s redemptive plan.”

Classic Novels

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

From Grand Central: “The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Alabama town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.”

Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

From Vintage: “The modern classic that inspired the beloved movie starring Tom Hanks. Six foot six, 242 pounds, and possessed of a scant IQ of 70, Forrest Gump is the lovable, surprisingly savvy hero of this classic comic tale. His early life may seem inauspicious, but when the University of Alabama’s football team drafts Forrest and makes him a star, it sets him on an unbelievable path that will transform him from Vietnam hero to world-class Ping-Pong player, from wrestler to entrepreneur. With a voice all his own, Forrest is telling all in a madcap romp through three decades of American history.”

Sports

Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith and Football by Bobby Bowden

From Howard Books: “In this New York Times bestseller, legendary coach (and Alabama native) Bobby Bowden gives readers an inside look at the path that led him to become one of college football’s most successful coaches.”

Game of My Life by Mark Murphy

From Sports Publishing: “Several prominent Auburn football players of the past share their fondest single-game experience and memories. Some of these games involve championships, while others seem ordinary save for extraordinary personal meaning. In each case, it is the player who singles out the game, the moment in time that to him is the most defining of his Auburn Tiger football career. Each player has his own unique story, but together they weave a tapestry of Auburn’s legendary history.”

The Storm and the Tide: Tragedy, Hope and Triumph in Tuscaloosa by Lars Anderson

From Sports Illustrated: “On April 27, 2011, a powerful tornado ripped through the heart of Tuscaloosa, Ala., leaving 53 dead and a path of unimaginable devastation. In the aftermath, Alabama coach Nick Saban and his football team went out into the community, sharing its grief and aiding in the recovery. Together they forged an unbreakable bond, and in a place where Saturdays are dedicated to Crimson Tide football, ‘Let’s play for Tuscaloosa’ became a rallying cry, an emotional touchstone that transcended the playing field.”

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania by Warren St. John

What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care? In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is not only a hilarious travel story, but a cultural anthropology of fans that goes a long way toward demystifying the universal urge to take sides and to win.

Hometown Heroes

Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, legendary NASA engineer based at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center

From Random House: “One of the most beloved bestsellers in recent years, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir. A powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the end of the 1950s, it is the story of a mother’s love and a father’s fears, of growing up and getting out. With the grace of a natural storyteller, Homer Hickam looks back after a distinguished NASA career to tell his own true story of growing up in a dying coal town and of how, against the odds, he made his dreams of launching rockets into outer space come true.”

Send the Alabamians: World War I Fighters in the Rainbow Division by Nimrod Thompson Frazer

From the University of Alabama Press: “Send the Alabamians tells the remarkable story of a division of Alabama recruits whose service Douglas MacArthur observed had not ‘been surpassed in military history.’ The book borrows its title from a quip by American General Edward H. Plummer who commanded the young men during the inauspicious early days of their service. Impressed with their ferocity and esprit de corps but exasperated by their rambunctiousness, Plummer reportedly exclaimed: ‘In time of war, send me all the Alabamians you can get, but in time of peace, for Lord’s sake, send them to somebody else!'”

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

In one of the most famous autobiographies in American history, Booker T. Washington tells the remarkable story of his rise from a childhood of slavery to a life of extraordinary accomplishment. He earned a wide range of titles along the way, from author and educator to entrepreneur and presidential advisor.

Current Events

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson 

From Spiegel & Grau: “A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time,” Bryan Stevenson of Montgomery, Alabama’s Equal Justice Initiative. This No. 1 New York Times Bestseller will soon be a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House by Cliff Sims

 From St. Martin’s Press: “The first honest insider’s account of the Trump administration, due out January 29. Sims stood with the President in the eye of the storm raging around him, and now he tells the story that no one else has written―because no one else could. The story of what it was really like in the West Wing as a member of the President’s team. The story of power and palace intrigue, backstabbing and bold victories, as well as painful moral compromises, occasionally with yourself. Team of Vipers tells the full story, as only a true insider could.”

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think by Andy Andrews

From Thomas Nelson: In this New York Times Bestseller, “Andy Andrews [shows] that good answers come only from asking the right questions. Through the powerful, provocative question, ‘How do you kill eleven million people?’―the number of people killed by the Nazi German regime between 1933 and 1945―he explores a number of other questions relevant to our lives today.

Career Advice

 Climbing the Hill by Amos Snead and Jaime Harrison

From Yellowhammer News’ Sean Ross: “For young people seeking careers in public service or politics, it is often the lessons learned outside of the classroom that make the difference between success and failure. Now, one Alabama native is providing a guide to help aspiring politicos find their way.” In Climbing the Hill, Alabama native Amos Snead has co-written a book chock full of advice and insight for anyone seeking a career in the political arena.

12 hours ago

Veteran helped by Alabama deputies could reconnect with son

JASPER, ALA. (AP) — A social media post about a veteran wearing an oxygen mask while walking down a road may help connect the man to his estranged son.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that the Gulf War veteran attempted to walk about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Walker County to Huntsville for an appointment Wednesday because his car wasn’t working.

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A Walker County deputy worked with other deputies to transport him to and from his appointment at the VA. News reports identify him as Gerald Baldwin.

The post has more than 150,000 shares. Baldwin’s son Lance in Pennsylvania saw the story and recognized his father. He told news outlets Sunday that the two hadn’t spoken in about five years. He now plans to reach out to his father.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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Editor’s note — The aforementioned Facebook post is as follows:

12 hours ago

Auburn’s famed golden eagle Nova possibly in early stages of heart failure

Auburn University’s widely known golden eagle Nova, War Eagle VII, could potentially be in the early stages of heart failure, according to university veterinarians and a press release issued last week.

“The 20-year-old male eagle received a biannual checkup in early October at the College of Veterinary Medicine followed by another echocardiogram Oct. 31.,” the statement stated. “In 2017 he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart, and was sidelined from flying at football games to reduce stress.”

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“Nova’s condition has been medically managed and he has remained stable during the past two years, however, during his October exam, we observed decreased systolic function and enlarged vessels in his liver,” said Dr. Seth Oster, faculty avian veterinarian for the college’s Southeastern Raptor Center. “This could be an indication of the early stages of heart failure.”

Veterinarians also said they increased Nova’s dosage in a new round of treatments and that they will monitor how he responds.

“We will know more after we see how Nova responds to his latest rounds of treatment,” Oster said.

According to Andrew Hopkins, the assistant director of raptor training and education, Nova’s appearance at the Southeastern Raptor Center’s educational programs will be limited as veterans continue to monitor his progress.

The statement released on Nova’s health also provided background information on Nova.

It read, “Nova was hatched in 1999 at the Montgomery Zoo and was non-releasable due to human imprinting. He came to Auburn in 2000, made his first pre-game flight in 2004 and was designated War Eagle VII in 2006. He has helped promote wildlife conservation and awareness at almost 2,000 educational programs at the raptor center and at schools and conservation events around the Southeast. Raptor center staff conduct almost 300 presentations annually.”

Aurea, a 5-year-old female golden eagle, and Spirit, a 23-year-old female bald eagle, have both made pregame flights this season in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

12 hours ago

Final resting places for Alabama veterans

Like soldiers at attention, battalions of white markers stretch out across the fields in perfect formation.

Below them are soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. They are compatriots linked by more than common soil. Some died in service; many others survived the decades before finally falling to old age. All sacrificed.

Alabama has four cemeteries dedicated to the men and women who have worn American military uniforms. They are shrines and places of reflection to the people who fought at places like Chateau-Thierry, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Incheon, Saigon, Baghdad and Kabul.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs oversees Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo and Fort Mitchell National Cemetery near Phenix City. The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs manages cemeteries under the same VA regulations in Spanish Fort and Mobile, although the one in Mobile is at capacity and open only to surviving spouses.

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Burials and headstones at all the cemeteries are free for the veteran, spouse and dependent children. That includes in-ground casket or cremation burials or in a columbarium for urns containing cremated remains.

“Everything from the gate to the headstone is free. That saves a family anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 at a minimum,” said Todd Newkirk, assistant director at Fort Mitchell and interim director at Alabama National.

Newkirk, scanning the pristine grounds of Alabama National, believes there is a more plausible explanation why service members choose to call a veterans cemetery their final resting place.

“You are among your brothers and sisters at arms,” Newkirk said. “You are a veteran, and this is a place that honors veterans 24/7. And as long as there is a United States of America, this place is going to be taken care of. People are going to be here every day, all day, taking care of the cemetery.”

Reminders of sacrifice

Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth Bourland was the first active-duty serviceman to be buried at Alabama National, which was dedicated in 2008. The Birmingham native, who flew helicopter missions in Iraq, died in February 2010 when the hotel where he was staying during a humanitarian mission in Haiti collapsed during an earthquake. Bourland was survived by his wife and two sons, then ages 3 and 1.

“Our daughter-in-law was the one that made the decision whether he would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery (near Washington, D.C.) or here,” said Bourland’s mother, Adrienne Bourland. “I am very glad she made the choice for him to come back to Alabama. It has allowed us be involved in the ceremonies and the activities.”

Adrienne Bourland and her husband live in St. Clair County and are members of a volunteer support staff that helps conduct special ceremonies at the cemetery on veterans and memorial holidays. Kenneth Bourland’s family has moved back to the Birmingham area from Florida, where they were living at the time of his death.

Alabama cemetery headstones, carved from Sylacauga marble, include a person’s name, rank, branch of service, date of birth and death, and a symbol of religion.

“The last two or three spaces are for an optional inscription that the next of kin is able to select,” Newkirk said. “They can put whatever they want on those lines as long as it is appropriate.”

‘I see America here’

Fort Mitchell National was established 31 years ago at the urging of U.S. Rep. Bill Nichols and state Sen. Joseph Smith of Phenix City, both of whom contended that Alabama deserved a national cemetery. Their argument was fortified by Fort Benning, Georgia, being just across the Chattahoochee River from Alabama.

“Joseph Smith was actually the first person buried here,” Newkirk said. “He actually died before it opened, and his wife had him disinterred (from another cemetery) and reinterred here.”

Alabama National and Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery were created in 2008 and 2012, respectively, to meet the burial needs of World War II and Korean War veterans.

All three cemeteries adjoin historical grounds. Alabama National is adjacent to American Village, an educational facility that contains replicas of historical structures. Fort Mitchell National Cemetery abuts a replica of the early American outpost and link to the Federal Road that opened Alabama to settlers. The Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery is near Fort Blakely, which was the site of the largest Civil War battle in Alabama.

Each cemetery conducts commemorative ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and many volunteers lay wreaths on the headstones at Christmas. Those ceremonies are generally conducted by support committees, veteran groups and Scouts.

Newkirk, however, said he can’t help but reflect on the sacrifices of those entombed every time he drives in the cemetery entrance.

“This is the best job I ever had in my life,” he said. “I did 21 years active duty in the Air Force and 15 years as a civilian in the Army, and so it is special to me. I see America here. I see my brother and sisters. It’s just an honor to be here.”

This story originally appeared in Alabama Living magazine.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

14 hours ago

Republican AL-02 candidate Jessica Taylor signs term limits pledge

Prattville’s Jessica Taylor, a conservative Republican candidate in Alabama’s Second Congressional District, in recent days announced she has signed the U.S. Term Limits Congressional Pledge.

In signing the pledge, Taylor committed — if elected — to cosponsoring and voting for the U.S. Term Limits amendment, which would enact limits of three terms maximum for U.S. House members and two terms maximum for U.S. senators.

In a statement, Taylor said, “We will never drain the swamp if we keep sending the same old career politicians to D.C. election after election.”

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“As a conservative, I am deeply frustrated by the out-of-control spending, backroom deals, and broken promises that are the status quo in Washington,” she concluded. “We need term limits to empower voters and return our government to citizen legislators who can bring fresh ideas and conservative reform to Washington. As your next congresswoman, I will go toe-to-toe with socialists like AOC, Ilhan Omar, and their liberal ‘squad’ to fight for our conservative Alabama values.”

Taylor is running in a crowded GOP primary to succeed U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02), who is not seeking reelection to a sixth term.

Other qualified candidates include Wiregrass businessman Jeff Coleman, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King and former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise).

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Byrne campaign rolls out veterans coalition on Veterans Day

Congressman Bradley Byrne’s (AL-01) U.S Senate campaign on Monday — Veterans Day — announced the launch of their “Veterans for Byrne” coalition, which includes more than 400 veterans from across Alabama.

In a statement, Byrne said, “Nothing means more to me than having the support from those who have served our great country.”

“Our veterans have fought to defend the values that make America great, and I promise to do everything I can do to ensure those same values are protected and that the ones who have given so much to our country receive the benefits and support they deserve,” he added.

The statewide coalition chair is Lt. General Charles “Chick” Cleveland of Montgomery and the vice chair is Colonel John Reitzell of Huntsville.

Each branch of the U.S. military is represented by a chairman, and each region of the Yellowhammer State is represented by a veterans steering committee.

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Cleveland is one of America’s “Fighter Aces,” the country’s most distinguished fighter pilots. He earned his “Ace” status in the Korean War, in which he shot down five enemy aircraft in the dangerous region known as “MIG Alley.”

“No one has been a stronger fighter for our Alabama veterans than Bradley Byrne,” Cleveland stated. “When it comes to supporting our troops and veterans, Bradley Byrne is the only man for the job.”

Reitzell added, “While some people in this race have attacked President Trump for not doing enough for our veterans, Bradley Byrne has been on the frontlines with President Trump to get better care and clean up the mess at the VA. Talk is cheap. Bradley is actually getting the job done for our veterans, and I’m proud to support him.”

You can read statements from the respective branch coalition chairs and view the members of each regional steering committee here.

Byrne is running in the crowded Republican primary to unseat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL). Other qualified GOP candidates include former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Byrne has previously unveiled a farmers coalition supporting his campaign, as well as a 67-county grassroots leadership team.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn