Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol' Boys Defined a State

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University of Arkansas Press, 2009 - History - 242 pages
2 Reviews
What do Scott Joplin, John Grisham, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Maya Angelou, Brooks Robinson, Helen Gurley Brown, Johnny Cash, Alan Ladd, and Sonny Boy Williamson have in common? They're all Arkansans. What do hillbillies, rednecks, slow trains, bare feet, moonshine, and double-wides have in common? For many in America these represent Arkansas more than any Arkansas success stories do. In 1931 H. L. Mencken described AR (not AK, folks) as the "apex of moronia." While, in 1942 a Time magazine article said Arkansas had "developed a mass inferiority complex unique in American history."
Arkansas/Arkansaw is the first book to explain how Arkansas's image began and how the popular culture stereotypes have been perpetuated and altered through succeeding generations. Brooks Blevins argues that the
image has not always been a bad one. He discusses travel accounts, literature, radio programs, movies, and television shows that give a very positive image of the Natural State. From territorial accounts of the Creole inhabitants of the Mississippi River Valley to national derision of the state's triple-wide governor's mansion to Li'l Abner, the Beverly Hillbillies, and Slingblade, Blevins leads readers on an entertaining and insightful tour through more than two centuries of the idea of Arkansas. One discovers along the way how one state becomes simultaneously a punch line and a source of admiration for progressives and social critics alike.
  

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Review: Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol' Boys Defined a State

User Review  - Carolyn - Goodreads

Very interesting, detailed history of how Arkansas aquired its hillbilly reputation and inferiority complex. The book is detailed and academic, not an easy read, but well worth the effort for those of us interested in all things Arkansas. Read full review

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Contents

Creating the Bear State
11
Why Arkansas?
37
Aboard the Arkansaw Train
43
This Hillbilly State of Mine
65
Heyday of the Hillbilly
71
Getting Defensive
119
All Roads Lead to Bubba
137
Conclusion
185
Notes
197
Bibliography
221
Index
231
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About the author (2009)

Brooks Blevins is the Endowed Associate Professor of Ozark Studies at Missouri State University. He is the author of Cattle in the Cotton Fields, Hill Folks, and Lyon College, 1872-2002 and editor of Life in the Leatherwoods, the last two published by the University of Arkansas Press.

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