The same for the Green Corn Socialist party rebellion, or the coal miner strikes that followed two deadly blasts in southeastern Oklahoma.

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

Author John Dwyer, formerly of Noble, doesn’t sugar coat any of these historic events or other dark chapters in Vol. 2 of “The Oklahomans, The Story of Oklahoma and Its People,” released this past month.

It’s a hefty, 656-page book that spans Oklahoma’s 1907 statehood to 2020. The book follows the release of Vol. 1 of “The Oklahomans” in 2016.

The work was at least five years in the making for Dwyer, a Duncan native and former college instructor who now lives in Waukomis.

It’s chock full of facts, 800-plus 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 grit and resilience of its people. (The codes refer readers to expanded versions of the features.)

Through Dwyer’s writing, we learn about the double whammies of the Dust Bowl and the Depression and a flu epidemic that mirrors what we’ve just witnessed. It makes today’s problems seem trivial.

We learn about wildcatters and prohibition. Entrepreneurs get a fair shake, too. C.R. Anthony’s, TG&Y and Hobby Lobby are all Oklahoma born. Walmart founder Sam Walton is also an Oklahoma product.

The book release party drew about 350 invited guests. Dwyer says the momentum was really generated by “The Oklahomans” Vol. 1.

“People wanted more and they wanted to see more modern stuff,” he said. “A lot of people were waiting for this book. If you’re going to do it, you better pull out all the stops. We’ve been trying to play catch-up ever since.”

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

Dwyer wants the state’s history to be truthful and an exciting read. There’s always the 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 back to the 50s, the 60s and even the 70s — there were no pictures in those books, just texts, list of governors and the vote counts and so on. They were just boring. I believe history, if it’s boring, well that’s the fault of the person writing it.”

 

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