Up South in the Ozarks: Dispatches from the Margins by Brooks Blevins
The Ozarks is a place that defies easy categorization. Sprawling across much of Missouri and Arkansas and smaller parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, it is caught on the margins of America’s larger cultural regions: part southern, part midwestern, and maybe even a little bit western. For generations Ozarkers have been more likely than most other Americans to live near or below the poverty line—a situation that has often subjected them to unflattering stereotypes. In short, the Ozarks has been a marginal place populated by marginalized people.
Historian Brooks Blevins has spent his life studying and writing about the people of his native regions—the South and the Ozarks. He has been in the vanguard of a new and vibrant Ozarks Studies movement that has worked to refract the stories of Ozarkers through a more realistic and less exotic lens. In Up South in the Ozarks: Dispatches from the Margins, Blevins introduces us with humor and fairness to mostly unseen lives of the past and present: southern gospel singing schools and ballad collectors, migratory cotton pickers and backroad country storekeepers, fireworks peddlers and impoverished diarists.
Part historical and part journalistic, Blevins’s essays combine the scholarly sensibilities of a respected historian with the insights of someone raised in rural hill country. His stories of marginalized characters often defy stereotype. They entertain as much as they educate. And most of them originate in the same place Blevins does: up south in the Ozarks.
About the Author
Brooks Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University. He published with the University of Illinois Press his capstone work—three volumes constituting the definitive history of the Ozarks. He is also the author or editor of ten other books, including Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State.
Published by The University of Arkansas Press, 2022. Paperback, 308 pages.