For the past three decades, historian and archivist Forrest Lamar Cooper has written a regular column for Mississippi Magazine about unusual, fascinating aspects of the state's history, culture, products, and people. Whether describing the Jubilee Beverage Company of Jackson, the origins of the Mississippi State Fair, a Mississippi veteran who fought at Iwo Jima, or Biloxi's Riviera Hotel, Cooper's "Looking Back" columns are thoroughly researched and written with verve and clarity.
Looking Back Mississippi: Towns and Places collects thirty-nine of Cooper's best essays on the various cities, towns, dwellings, parks, and institutions of historical resonance. Covering all corners of the state, from the mid-1800s to the 1930s, the volume offers an engaging, convivial alternative history of Mississippi, one that emphasizes the obscure and small-scale over the big picture. Each short essay is accompanied by photographic and illustrative postcards from Cooper's private collection.
These postcards and other memorabilia give delightful visual clarity to Cooper's historical accounts of towns as far north as Hernando and as coastal as Pass Christian, from the Delta to the Pine Belt. Cooper focuses on Mississippi places, and the people and events that made them famous. Much of the architecture and even the terrain-as with the Gulf Coast's once legendary orange groves-has disappeared, making Cooper's postcards invaluable resources for understanding and visualizing what no longer exists. Looking Back Mississippi provides a treasure trove of history and insight into long-vanished corners of the state.