Friday, November 30, 2012

Author Chat with Robert Blade

Two weeks ago UPM authorRobert Blade came through Mississippi on a mini book tour. His last stop was at Lemuria in Jackson which gave me a chance to sit down and chat with him about his book, Tupelo Man: The Life and Times of George McLean, a Most Peculiar Newspaper Publisher.

Video of our chat is below. We talked about his unique relationship to his biography subject (he is married to McLean's daughter), the reception to the book in Tupelo, and what exactly made George McLean so peculiar.

Early in his life McLean drifted through schools and jobs, always questioning authority, always searching for a way to put his restless vision into practical use. In the Depression's depths, he was fired from a teaching job at what is now Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, over his socialist ideas and labor-organizing work.

By 1934, he decided that he had enough of working for others and that he would go into business for himself. In dirt-poor northeast Mississippi, the Tupelo Journal was for sale, and McLean used his wife's money to buy what he called "a bankrupt newspaper from a bankrupt bank." As he struggled to keep the paper going, his Christian socialism evolved into a Christian capitalism that transformed the region. He didn't want a bigger slice of the pie for himself, he said; he wanted a bigger pie for all.

Tupelo Man looks at this far-from-ordinary publisher in an intimate way that offers a fascinating story and insight into our own lives and times.

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