Way down Yonder in the Indian Nation: Writings from America's Heartland

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A deeply sympathetic, colorful evocation of life on the American prairies

In Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation—a title inspired by the lyrics of Woody Guthrie—best-selling author Michael Wallis creates a brilliant tableau of America’s heartland.

Featuring a new introduction by the author, this collection of sixteen essays reflects the finest examples of Wallis’s writing and harkens back to a time before fast food and malls replaced ...

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Overview

A deeply sympathetic, colorful evocation of life on the American prairies

In Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation—a title inspired by the lyrics of Woody Guthrie—best-selling author Michael Wallis creates a brilliant tableau of America’s heartland.

Featuring a new introduction by the author, this collection of sixteen essays reflects the finest examples of Wallis’s writing and harkens back to a time before fast food and malls replaced family-owned diners along Route 66. From tales of the notorious Oklahoma panhandle, where “the only law was the colt and the carbine,” to the fate of Woody Guthrie’s mother Nora, who, burdened by depression, set fire to her kids and spent the last years of her life in an asylum, Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation brings to life some of Oklahoma’s most memorable characters—the famous and infamous, the ordinary and down-home.

“Enclosed within the covers of this book are some of my favorite spoonfuls of Oklahoma,” says Wallis. The result is a quintessential American book—a crazy quilt of stories and a powerful portrait of Okie identity.

From the bestselling author of Route 66 comes a deeply sympathetic, vividly colorful evocation of life on the prairies--a rare and classic portrait of one of America's least understood regions. Brimming with history, these 16 pieces create a brilliant tableau of America's heartland. 16 pp. of photos. 240 pp. Author publicity.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Oklahoma is suffering an identity problem, according to Wallis ( Route 66 ), due to a denial of its history and an enduring second-class citizen attitude. Seeking to shatter some of the stereotypes and to find the essence of our 46th state, Wallis offers an engaging piece on Americans. He writes about Woody Guthrie, about Pretty Boy Floyd, Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller and Frank Phillips of petroleum fame. Escorting us mile by mile down America's highway, Route 66, he tells us about the Miller family's ranch and its touring Wild West Shows of the pre-WW I era. Wallis pays triubte to the Thunderbirds, the Army's 45th Infantry Division, and to its leaders. He also points out prime barbecue emporiums in this vivid portrait of Oklahoma and its inhabitants, past and present, which should spark strong local and regional interest. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
In the style of Will Rogers, Wallis gives a moving tribute to Oklahoma--its colorful history and inhabitants. Composed of 16 essays, this work reflects the spirit of Oklahoma by focusing on the individual towns and cities that make up the state, such as Texahoma and Tulsa, along with interesting characters that have called Oklahoma home. Featured are such notables as oilman Frank Phillips, balladeer Woody Guthrie, Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller, cowboy Freckles Brown, and Pretty Boy Floyd. Wallis, a Southwestern reporter and author, has also written biographies of Floyd and Phillips. The essays included in this work are enjoyable to read. Recommended for those libraries with an interest in Oklahoma and Americana.-- Terri P. Summey, Emporia State Univ., Kan.
Angus Trimnell
The title is a lyric from a Woody Guthrie song and hearkens back to that folk minstrel's days growing up in Oklahoma. The book pounds out images of little-understood Oklahoma, the state Wallis discovered and made his home. Laboring to correct misconceptions and offer historical insight to those of us who do not call ourselves "Okies," Wallis has composed 16 essays, written in simple, expressive prose, that conjure a football star, the folk singer, oil barons, the 45th Infantry, Route 66, the Trail of Tears, and more. Although Wallis turns slightly adulatory at times, this volume is readable and rich with lesser-known stories that become patches roughly sewn into the American quilt. Recommended for all American folklore and larger history collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312094102
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/17/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author

Michael Wallis

Michael Wallis is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including Route 66: The Mother Road and Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Searching for Hidden Rhythms in Twilight Land 1
2 That Old House: Woody Guthrie's Home in Oklahoma 19
3 Route 66: The Mother Road 29
4 The Mystic Blend of Fire, Smoke, and Meat 59
5 Thunderbirds: the Fighting 45th 73
6 A Golden Time in the West 89
7 Oil Man 99
8 Okie Deco 125
9 Texhoma: The Lives and Times of a Border Town 137
10 The Way Things Used to Be 149
11 Pretty Boy 157
12 An All-American Spiritual Warrior 177
13 Oklahoma's Most Haunted 195
14 Freckles 207
15 Hail to the Chief 217
16 The Real Wild West 229
Photographic Credits 252
About the Author 253
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