I’ve been reading a couple of books this month–Brooks Blevins’ Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South and Aaron Ketchell’s Holy Hills of the Ozarks: Religion and Tourism in Branson, Missouri. I’ve followed Brooks’ work for a long time, but Ketchell’s book is new to me.
Ghost of the Ozarks is the story of one of the strangest murder trials in Ozarks history, a 1929 case in Mountain View, Arkansas, in which the supposed “victim” showed up during the investigation but whose identity was doubted by the prosecutors, who went on with the trial despite the presence of the “victim” as a defense witness. Holy Hills of the Ozarks examines the religious foundations of Branson’s entertainment tourism industry, starting with Harold Bell Wright and working from there to 2007, the date of the book’s publication.
Both are academic works, so I can’t recommend them for casual or light reading, but they’re both terrific pieces of scholarship. It’s reassuring to know that the shelf of books in Ozarks Studies is really quite impressive, once you start hunting around.