After leading Alabama’s Department of Archives and History for more than thirty years, Dr. Edwin C. Bridges lets us into a big secret: Alabama’s powerful and dramatic history is often overlooked by those of us living in it. But, his new book is aiming to change that.
In Alabama: The Making of an American State, Bridges paints a clear picture of Alabama’s historical details, weaved with stories and archival points of interest along the way.
“We often think that Alabama history is somehow not real history like Greek or Roman history or the French Revolution,” Bridges said. “But Alabama history really is a powerful, dramatic story—one that we may fail to appreciate because we are so close to it.”
From the Yellowhammer state’s earliest fossil records and original Native American inhabitants to the cotton and slave labor that formed its early economy, the story of how Alabama came to be still shapes issues we face today. Tracing the early roots of Alabama is no easy task, and Bridges manages to turn these events into a palatable story that piques the history buff in all of us.
Take the raw realities of the Civil War, as well as the Civil Rights movement, and you’ll find that Alabama plays a key role in United States’ history. Bridges’ takes those large, complex events and conveys to the reader that the study of Alabama’s past helps explain the issues we are still facing today. He emphasizes that it’s a crucial component to embracing Alabama’s future. As they say, knowledge is power.
“Many great issues in American history and even some of the great issues in human development can be seen playing out in Alabama—often in ways that significantly influenced life outside of Alabama, Bridges said. “In studying Alabama’s history, we not only learn about the background of issues we face in the state today, we are also drawn into some of the most interesting parts of American history.”
Bridges’ new volume is illustrated meticulously: with maps, archival photographs and archaeological artifacts, as well as art works, portraiture, and specimens of Alabama craftsmanship, many never before published.
Since Alabama’s Bicentennial is coming up in 2019, the time is ripe for a book that delves into the state’s evolving legacy.
“For the last 35 years, I have been privileged to work in Alabama history—work that I have loved about people, events and issues that I love,” Bridges said.
“When I retired, I did not want to just walk away from all this that I cared so much about, or from the friends I had made over the years. I thought I owed to myself as well as to the people of Alabama whose support had made my work possible to try to take stock of what I had learned. Perhaps, I thought, I could put some of it together in a book written for ordinary citizens that might help them see and better appreciate some of these stories that I have spent my life with. ”
Alabama: The Making of an American State is a story of significant struggles, unforgettable conflicts, achievements and developments. Bridges weaves decades of research, along with the deep archival holdings of the state’s Department of Archives and History into a definitive resource for anyone seeking a broad understanding of Alabama’s roots.
Dr. Bridges new book is available at your nearby Books-a-million or at books-a-million.com.