Sunset, evening star, good red wine and a view of a great bend in the Cumberland River brought recollections one evening of traveling the mountains of Wyoming with Lucius. We had a yen for a book a book to jog our memory and, in these uncertain days, give a clue to the question, "What would Lucius say?" By coincidence, I had recently read a prospectus of Cold Tree Press, a high-quality, print-on-demand publishing business based in Nashville. If they could and would do what they promised, such a book would be do-able, even for people like us, who knew nothing about publishing.

We started the process in early May 2003 and wanted to have books ready by Christmas. (I didn't want to do any Christmas shopping and had promised someone that they would have a book for Christmas a rash move, perhaps.) No narrative can depict a man's life as accurately as his own words. I had stacks of Lucius' papers given to me over the years speeches, articles, letters. With the miracle of a computer and help from technically adept friends, these papers were scanned to my laptop, arranged, minimal connective material was added and final editing was completed. We turned in a disk to Cold Tree Press on October 1. They printed a double-sided, unbound copy so we could see what it would look like as a book. We found some typos on this proof and were allowed to make corrections. Unlike traditional publishing, we discovered that authors are involved throughout the process and are able to participate in important decisions.

And, voilˆ, just in time for Christmas, we had our first book. Peter Honsberger, the Cold Tree partner who worked with us, handled the project with good humor. Even more, his experience in advertising and graphics is evident in the excellent formatting and design. The quality of the paper is what I first notice in any book, and when I saw the quality of paper they used, I knew we had made the right choice. We were also pleased by the remarkably reasonable cost and the fact that we will never be burdened with too many books only as many as we need.

The result is a beautiful book, worthy of its subject. Start with "Recollections of a Bounty Hunter," the only published account of shooting eagles, wolves and hair seals for bounty during the Great Depression of the early '30s paid by the Territory of Alaska and encouraged by the U.S. Biological Survey. "Dromahair" is Everyman's dream of owning a castle in Ireland. Searching for the wrecks of the Armada off the wild northern coast of Scotland and Ireland leads to the raising and dedication of three cannons of the Dutch island in the Caribbean, St. Eustatius, which fired the first salute to an American warship, thus recognizing the United States as an independent nation. Of the practice of law, Lucius writes, "I should like to convince you that no activity surpasses the practice of law in social usefulness. Second, of all professions, it permits more freedom, is more conducive to living an expansive personal life, and, finally, that no way of life is more stimulating and challenging." Also included is an abridged transcript of successful federal court proceedings to lift an injunction against a protest march led by Martin Luther King Jr. on the day he was shot in Memphis. Ambassador Andrew Young, who served as King's aide, says, "During the times of social unrest, many of the unsung heroes of the South were lawyers and judges. To me, Lucius Burch was the best. His writings confirm the courage and intelligence of a great man who made a difference." Through the tenets of conservation, the law and equal opportunity for all people, there run through Lucius' life whimsical and optimistic tying rods of personal freedom and life lived to the utmost. His life was divided, at his will, between advocating unpopular causes and exploring the wilderness of the earth, usually on foot, either alone or with those who loved him. Now we can vicariously roam his world and, in days of diminishing private rights, read his thoughts, which leave no doubt as to "what would Lucius say?" Lucius: Writings of Lucius Burch (Cold Tree Press, $26.95, ISBN 1583850198) was edited by Shirley Caldwell-Patterson, Cissy Caldwell Akers, Bill Coble and John Noel.

 

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