Alabama native Asa Carter was a home-grown American fascist and anti-Semite, founder of the Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy, right-wing radio announcer, publisher of the segregationist newsletter “Southerner”, and secret author of the famous 1963 speech by Gov. George Wallace of Alabama: ‘Segregation now…segregation tomorrow…segregation forever.’

Forrest Carter’s first book The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales, published in 1973, became the basis for the Clint Eastwood movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, which was released in 1976.  It is recognized today as one of the last great Westerns, which served as an important insight into the evolution of the portrayal of the Old West. Carter’s second book, The Education of Little Tree, a fictional memoir of Asa Earl Carter, an orphaned boy raised by his paternal Scottish-descent grandfather and Cherokee grandmother in the Great Smoky Mountains, was also released in 1976 by Delacorte Press. From the blurb on the back of the book: “…his Indian name is Little Tree, and the adventures and education of Little Tree are his own. He has been a cowhand all over the South and Southwest, with his main interest always remaining the history of his people.1 The book received the ABBY award from the American Booksellers Association, and later on in 1997, was adapted as the screenplay of the film by the same name.

Whether a double identity or a case of fake identity, one thing is quite clear:  Forrest Carter was, in reality, Asa Carter, and he was no Native American, but rather a white-supremacist with a history of violence and racist beliefs.  In 1979, he was choked to death by his own grown son after a drunken fistfight, leaving many unanswered questions as to his true motivations and beliefs.

 

The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales was privately printed by Whipporwill Press – a press that had previously devoted all its efforts to printing racist pamphlets. It was subsequently published by Delacorte Press as Gone to Texas, during the same year, 1973. Both editions are very scarce, with the Whipporwill Press copies asking close to five figures, while the first printing of the Delacorte Press edition, without defects sells for close to four figures in US dollars.

 

 

In 1986, seven years after the author’s death, the University of New Mexico bought the rights to publish The Education of Little Tree. The University managed to turn the book to a success, selling over 2 million copies and reaching #1 on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list by October 4, 1991. It was promoted by the University as a biography of an Indian boy with the blurb on the back cover: “…Self-educated, Carter drew material for his books from his kin, from his Indian friends, and from a diary his great-grandmother kept during the reconstruction period.…”2 3 The 1976 first edition of the book was published by Delacorte Press, and copies of this edition are also quite scarce but remain relatively quite inexpensive with asking prices around $100.

 

What factors may be at play causing a tenfold price difference between Gone to Texas and The Education of Little Tree? After all, they are both first printings by the same author, same publisher imprint, and both have attractive stories with corresponding film adaptations. Gone to Texas was the first book by the author preceding the The Education of Little Tree by 3 years, but that alone could not account for the big difference in valuation. In fact, the sequel to Gone to Texas titled The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales, which was published during the same year as Little Tree, sells for triple the price of Little Tree.

 

A much more significant factor influencing collector interest is the association of Carter’s book to Clint Eastwood, the Academy Award winner and contributor to over 50 films over his career as actor, director, producer, and composer. The film, “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, earned Eastwood his first Academy Award nomination. At the time that the film was produced, Eastwood did not know of Carter’s past as a Klansman and rabid segregationist. Carter’s sequel The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales, which was originally planned by Clint Eastwood as a film project was eventually cancelled. Perhaps he wanted to remain the good guy after finding out who the bad guy was.  And for book collectors, a few more rare books to look for.

 

 

 

1 Carter, Forrest 1976, The Education of Little Tree, Delacorte Press, New York City.

2 Carter, Forrest 1986, The Education of Little Tree, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

3 Browder, Laura 1986, The Curious Case of Asa Carter and The Education of Little Tree, In American Indians and Popular Culture, edited by Elizabeth DeLaney Hoffman, 63-79. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012.

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In a popular science book, the English Chemist James Lovelock described his Gaia hypothesis to a lay readership. The hypothesis proposed that living organisms and inorganic material on Earth are part of a dynamic, integrated, self-regulating system that shapes the Earth’s biosphere, and maintains ideal conditions for life to flourish. Initially received with skepticism, the Gaia principle is now acknowledged and accepted as a scientific theory that is embraced, to some extent, by New Age environmentalists. Written at the start of the environmental movement, it is the basis of a number of predictions made by Lovelock as part of the heightened awareness of environmental concerns, including global warming. Prior to the first edition of Gaia a new look at life on Earth, published by Oxford University Press in 1979, the theory was described in scientific journals. The February 1975 issue of the New Scientist, which included the article The Quest for Gaia by Lovelock, is impossible to find, and the first edition of the Oxford University publication is now quite scarce.

Chemist Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards, one of the founders of home economics, was also the first woman to study at MIT. From 1873 to 1878, she became the university’s first female instructor as an unpaid chemistry lecturer in the MIT Women’s Laboratory. In 1882, just before the closing of the Women’s Laboratory and the opening of MIT’s Sanitation Laboratory for which she was appointed as an instructor in sanitary chemistry, she published her first book: The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning, published by Estes & Lauriat in Boston. Subsequent editions of her book were published in 1897 and 1907. The book gave non-scientific readers some practical information as to the chemical composition of the common household cleaners. In the preface of the book, she writes: “The number of patent compounds thrown upon the market under fanciful names is a witness to the apathy of housekeepers…. These mysterious chemicals are not so many or so complicated in structure but that little patient study will enable any one to understand the laws of their action….”  At the request of the Massachusetts State Board of Health, she developed the so-called “Richards’ Normal Chlorine Map”, which was predictive of inland water pollution in the state of Massachusetts. It plotted the chloride concentrations and distribution in waters throughout the state. As a result of her work, Massachusetts established the first water-quality standards in America, which was followed by the first modern sewage treatment plant, built in Lowell, Massachusetts.

When James Finlay Weir Johnston wrote The Chemistry of Common Life, in 1854, he hoped that someday it would become a classic of popular science writing. He dedicated the book to his friend and patron David Brewster. Together, they proclaimed the decline of science and the need to promote it throughout the British provinces. Using language that appealed to anyone interested in how the world worked, Johnston skillfully presented the science of chemistry to the non-scientist. The book begins with food and drink, and continues with poisons, scents, fertilizers and explosives. It inspired the reader to think in terms of chemical reactions and compositions at a time when chemistry was the fundamental, exciting, and popular science. The book became, in effect, his memorial, because by the time it was published he had died from a lung infection which he caught while travelling abroad.

Despite the fact that chemistry is a complex science, it is quite fascinating to delve into the chemistry behind rockets, or viruses, or the molecular breakdown of a hangover within one’s body in common terminology. Through popular chemistry we can all learn how the properties, compositions, and structure of substances (elements and compounds), impact our lives for the good or for the bad.

Another book that we previously featured in a posting in the genre of natural history and environmental science, is also very much about chemistry. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1962, deals with the effects of the use of DDT as an agricultural pesticide. Carson’s book served as a wake-up call when she uncovered that DDT was killing the birds of Cape Cod, and was also contaminating the rivers in places where through the food chain and poisoned Salmon had reached human consumers. In following James Johnston’s footsteps from 100 years earlier, Carson brought chemistry to the public eye and helped spread its importance of its effect to our lives.

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Copyright Page or “Confusion Page of Anomalies”

May 31, 2021
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The publishing details for a book are usually printed on the back of the half title or, in some cases, the title page. This page is sometimes called the ‘copyright page‘ or the ‘publishing details page’. Through the years, publishers have used a number of copyright designations to specify the edition or the printing of […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 1st Quarter, 2021

April 19, 2021
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As the pandemic spread and live book fair events shut down around the world, Virtual Book Fairs (VBF) offered a new way to buy and sell books online. At last count, there have been at least a couple dozen virtual fairs organized by IOBA, PBFA, Getman, ABAA, ABA (“Firsts”), SLAM and others. Judging from the […]

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The Most Complicated Machine

April 5, 2021
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A universal notation with symbols employed that are few and simple enough, furnish the most important assistance in the design of the order and succession of the movements in a machine’s engine. This was the most important tool that Mr. Charles Babbage employed in his attempts to construct his celebrated calculating machines. In his own […]

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The Importance of Translation Exemplified by the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature

February 24, 2021
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The books that sinologists commonly refer to as the Four Great Classics of Chinese literature are: Dream of the Red Chamber, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Water Margin and Journey to the West. Their chronology spans from the Chinese Ming dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. The Water Margin and Romance of the Three Kingdoms […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 2020

January 21, 2021
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While much of the world has come to a stop at times during the pandemic, the rare book trade, confronted with challenges of its own, managed to finish the year without a major loss. It was, however, especially painful for rare book sellers – at least physically – who normally depend on in-store, in-person book […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – Virtual in Boston

December 10, 2020
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Recently, book collectors, book dealers, auctioneers and book trade organizers, connected in three virtual spaces for the annual Rare Book Week, which usually take place in the month of November, in Boston. The new virtual platform settings had the obvious benefits of enhanced reach, scalability and cost-effectiveness, for the organizers, and the potential of boosting […]

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The Trade in the Middle of the Pandemic

October 31, 2020
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Aaah, it’s that wonderful time of the year when New England puts out its glorious foliage as billions of leaves change from green to a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors. The air is crisp and cool — perfect for hiking, and biking along back roads, where farm stands are piled high with crunchy apples and orange […]

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The Fourth Dimension of a Rare Book

October 14, 2020
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Many Russian artists supported the Revolution of 1917, which was led by Vladimir Lenin against the old Tzarist regime, and established the first communist government. They turned their talents to promoting the social justice they believed it would bring, through Suprematism, a new abstract style in Russian art, with roots in cubist and futurist systems […]

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