Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hallwas book earns Midland Authors highest bio honor

John E. Hallwas is the quintessential Illinois historian and his latest book, Dime Novel Desperadoes: The Notorius Maxwell Brothers, captures the socio-economic forces at work in Illinois during Lincoln's time. Though the book is not a Lincoln bio, news of the Hallwas volume belongs on these blog, and good news it is.

The Society of Midland Authors has just awarded its highest honor for a biography to Hallwas. The University of Illinois Press, which published this and others among the author's 24 volumes, shared the following information with me today. In a future blog post, I'll share more about the book, the Society and Hallwas.

Please join me in wishing John Hallwas congratulations on this well-deserved honor.

Dime Novel Desperadoes takes top honor
"Dime Novel Desperadoes: The Notorious Maxwell Brothers," by Illinois author John E. Hallwas, received this year's Midland Authors Award for "Best Biography from the Midwest" at an awards banquet in Chicago, at the Congress Plaza Hotel, on May 12.

An exciting account of robbery, gunfights, manhunts, and lynching, "Dime Novel Desperadoes" recovers the long-forgotten story of Ed and Lon Maxwell, outlaw brothers from Illinois who once rivaled Jesse and Frank James in national notoriety. The 300-page narrative, illustrated with more than forty photographs, also delves into the cultural and psychological factors that produced lawbreakers and created a crime wave in the post-Civil War era.

In announcing the award, Robert Remer of the Society of Midland Authors referred to "Dime Novel Desperadoes" as "a great biography, massively researched and powerfully written, that probes deeply into the lives of the outlaws and the violent era in which they lived."

The Society of Midland Authors, established in 1915, has been giving awards for outstanding literary works from the Midwest for more than fifty years. Previous award winners have included such notable Midwestern writers as Gwendolyn Brooks and Dave Etter in poetry, Saul Bellow and Kurt Vonnegut in fiction, and Bruce Catton and Studs Terkel in nonfiction.

Commentators on, and reviewers of, "Dime Novel Desperadoes" have referred to it as "a fascinating true crime story," "extremely well written and . . .massively researched," "a superb narrative," and "a masterwork."

It is the 24th book that Hallwas has written or edited, related to the history or literature of Illinois. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Western Illinois University.

Learn more about the book
I wrote about Dime Novel Desperadoes and Hallwas last fall shortly after the book came out. Learn more about the author, the Lincoln connection and the book by reading my Nov. 16, 2008 article, "The Spark that got the Fire Burning."
© Copyright 2009 Ann Tracy Mueller. All rights reserved.


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog/website and thought you would be interested in this new book about Lincoln.

“The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President” by Larry Tagg is the first full-length book written entirely from the perspective of Lincoln’s contemporaries. What did the men who worked with him, for him, and against him actually think of Lincoln during his lifetime? Tagg dug deeply into newspapers, diaries, journals, letter collections, and other firsthand sources to paint what is perhaps the most riveting portrait ever of Lincoln’s election, inauguration, four long years as Commander-in-Chief, and tragic assassination. Readers are left to reach their own conclusions about how these startling accounts and evaluations of our sixteenth president affect his standing in the eyes of his countrymen.

You can read more about the book here: If you would be interested in posting an excerpt from the book and/or conducting an interview with author Larry Tagg, please let me know and I would be happy to help.

Tammy Hall
Sacramento, CA

Lincoln Buff 2 said...


Thank you. I'd love to do a piece on the book, but it won't be right away. I have an exam next week, some other obligations into June and two other books ahead of this. I'll be in touch, though. I love to feature Lincoln authors on my blog.

Thanks for getting in touch and for following my blog. Please follow me on twitter, too. I already did one tweet this week on the upcoming Virtual Book Signing and will tweet the book a few more times in the coming weeks.

My best to you and to Mr. Tagg.