"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Joe Bailey from up around Harrison was still a boy when he enlisted as a Confederate regular in the early months of the Civil War. He fought in battles in three states, was captured in Mississippi after Corinth and Iuka, escaped and came back to the Ozarks midway through the war, and spent the duration as a Confederate guerilla in the vicious storied border fighting.
He was an old man in Texas, oil-rich and approaching 80, when he got around to typing up his memories of the border war — or dictating them to a relative. That was around 1920, and Bailey would live for another decade. His typescript, admired for its spirited and dead-on grassroots view of a difficult and elusive aspect of the war, was copied and recopied and preserved by enthusiasts in several states, including Arkansas and Texas. It was widely known about, but little known.
The Texas historian T. Lindsay Baker came across it in an archive several years ago and began the tedious process of authenticating, annotating and editing it. He added a biographical sketch of Bailey — a real pistol, he was — and the book was published last month by the University of Arkansas Press.
“Confederate Guerrilla: The Civil War Memoir of Joseph M. Bailey,” edited by T. Lindsay Baker, is $29.95 in hard cover.
It joins several other titles from the UA’s “Civil War in the West” continuing series on our list of Essential Arkansas Books, a list no less prestigious for our never actually having gotten around to compiling it.
If you’re the litigious sort, or want to protect yourself from that species, you might want to check out “The American Bar Association Guide to Resolving Legal Disputes Inside and Outside the Courtroom,” just published by Random House Reference in paperback for $16.95. It’s not a how-to book for do-it-yourself lawyering, but it’s written in understandable English, and its practical advice could save you some dough. You still have to pay for the book, though, even if you lose the case.
And speaking of lawyers and lawyering, the University of Arkansas Press at Fayetteville, as part of its Little Rock Central High crisis 50th anniversary trove, will bring out in the next couple of months a biography of one of the key figures in the late lamented civil rights movement. He was Wylie A. Branton of Pine Bluff, a lawyer for the Little Rock Nine, who went on to a distinguished career in the Justice Department under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and later served as dean of the Howard University Law School. He might have been the quietest of the major civil rights leaders of that era and was rather neglected as a result. The book about him is “There When We Need Him: Wiley A. Branton, Civil Rights Warrior,” by Judith Kilpatrick, law professor and associate dean at the UA School of Law.
If you aren’t long since Katrinaed out, and if you have the stomach for it, LSU Press at Baton Rouge has what’s likely to be the authoritative account of the great bungle. It’s “City Adrift: New Orleans Before and After Katrina: A Center for Public Integrity Investigation” by a big-time team of reporters, with a foreword by Dan Rather. Paperback, $22.95. Heckuva job.