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January 20, 2011 | History

Swifter than eagles 1 edition

Swifter than eagles
Howard Cook


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About the Book

Incredible! The word used again and again to describe the Battle of
Athens in 1946 is still the only word that adequately sums it up.
"It was incredible," wrote the staid Chattanooga Times on the day
after it happened, "the Cantrell machine's deputies were so arrogant
in their gunplay and so bold in their efforts to frighten decent
voters and to intimidate war veterans who were working for the
independent county ticket. The reign of terror culminated in violent
scenes at the county jail late last night ... scenes which would
have been made to order for Cecil DeMille's movie camera ... Large
crowds of citizens witnessed the display of guns which would have
alarmed even Cripple Creek in its most lurid days."

As this editorial implies, this action-packed drama on its surface
resembles nothing so much as an old-fashioned shoot-em-up Western,
with the good guys lined up on one side and the bad guys
unmistakably lined up on the other. They were even costumed
differently to make identification easier. Incredible, but it
actually happened.

More incredible still is the story behind the story. The story
which was kept secret for three decades and more because Bill White,
who led this little revolution was silenced by the very men whom his
bold actions put into office. Silenced by the nasty threat of
exposure. Blackmailed, in short. Insurrection, young White was told,
was the name for what he had done, and for that he could be.... No
telling what! So he had better keep his mouth shut about what they
were doing. He did. Not out of cowardice, but out of loyalty to the
men whom he had led, out of fear of exposing them.

Now he has opened his mouth and told everything. Finally we have the
full story of what really happened on Election Day, August 1, 1946,
in Athens, Tennessee.

Howard Cook, the author, was born in Athens and still lives there.
He knows the region and its people intimately and writes about them
with a warm insight born of abiding affection. With enormous com-
passion, with gentle irony, sometimes with biting scorn, he narrates
this gripping drama in all its horrid and often hilarious detail.
Not since In Cold,61ood has the public been offered a nonfiction
novel of such sweep and concentration. Each episode is a fascinating
story in itself, serving at the same time the ends of an overall
disciplined design. Sea and land, water and rock, interchangeable
pairs, are the controlling symbols, and within that framework
emotion and symbol are interwoven to declare the theme: all men are
warped in some way and incomplete, but they can achieve a taste of
transcendence by striving together in freedom toward a common goal.
Mr. Cook is a gifted writer. In a prose style of great suppleness
and power, he ranges from simple reporting to rhetorical flights in
which rhapsodic lyricism and erudite allusion commingle. Dazzling
performance. Incredible!

Friendly City Publishing Co.
P.O. Box 946,
Athens, TN 37303

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Swifter than eagles
Bill White and the battle of Athens, 1946 : a nonfiction novel
by Howard Cook.

Published 1980 by Friendly City Pub. Co. in Athens, Tenn .
Written in English.


Dewey Decimal Class
Library of Congress
PS3553.O5538 S9

The Physical Object

343 p. :
Number of pages

ID Numbers

Open Library
LC Control Number

History Created December 10, 2009 · 3 revisions Download catalog record: RDF / JSON

January 20, 2011 Edited by Edited without comment.
December 5, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Added subjects from MARC records.
December 10, 2009 Created by WorkBot add works page