Column: Dwyer’s Last State History Book, One for the Ages | Opinion


The same goes for the Socialist Green Corn Party rebellion or the coal miners’ strikes that followed two deadly explosions in southeast Oklahoma.

No memory either of the wartime persecution of Oklahoma’s Mennonites, of the intercity drivers’ strike, of Klan or Jim Crow laws that prevented African Americans from pursuing the American dream.

Author John Dwyer, formerly of Noble, doesn’t gloss over any of these historical events or other dark chapters in the vol. 2 of “The Oklahomans, The Story of Oklahoma and Its People,” published last month.

It is a massive 656-page book that covers the state of Oklahoma from 1907 to 2020. The book follows the release of Vol. 1 of “The Oklahomans” in 2016.

The job took at least five years for Dwyer, a Duncan native and former college professor who now lives in Waukomis.

It’s packed with facts, over 800 photos, maps, digital scan codes, and even a few political cartoons. It helps me understand why my ancestors moved here in 1887 and never left. The true courage and resilience of its people. (The codes refer readers to the extended versions of the features.)

Through Dwyer’s writing, we learn about the double whammy of the Dust Bowl and the Depression and a flu epidemic that mirrors what we have just witnessed. This makes today’s problems insignificant.

We learn more about feral cats and prohibition. Entrepreneurs are also rewarded. CR Anthony’s, TG&Y and Hobby Lobby were all born in Oklahoma. Walmart founder Sam Walton is also an Oklahoma product.

The book launch party attracted approximately 350 guests. Dwyer says the momentum was really generated by “The Oklahomans” Vol. 1.

“People wanted more and they wanted to see more modern things,” he said. “A lot of people have been waiting for this book. If you’re going to make it, you better go all out. Since then, we’ve been trying to catch up.

Besides being a coffee table book, Vol. 2 is taken up by public and private schools and by homeschoolers. A condensed version of Vols. 1 and 2 for ninth graders is planned soon. Award-winning photos by Mike Klemme appear throughout the book, along with custom illustrations by Jerry Bennett.

Dwyer wants the state’s story to be truthful and compelling. There’s always a tension between writing a general history book for all readers or a textbook for classroom use, he said.

“We’ve really come a long way in historiography,” he said. “It’s interesting when you look at the 50s, 60s and even 70s – there were no pictures in those books, just texts, the list of governors and the counting of votes etc. They were just boring I believe that history, if it’s boring, is the fault of whoever writes it.


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