History is about so much more than memorizing facts. It is about the story. And, told in the right way, it is the greatest one ever written: Good and evil, triumph and tragedy, despicable acts of barbarism and courageous acts of heroism. Glenn’s latest book, Miracles and Massacres, is history as you’ve never heard it told. It’s incredible events that you never knew existed. And it’s stories so important and relevant to today that you won’t have to ask: Why didn’t they teach me this?
If you’ve ever watched Andy Griffith on TV, take a moment and think about “Mayberry” – that little town where the show took place.
It was a great place to live, and Sheriff Taylor and Barney Fife were all the people needed to keep law and order. And seriously, they probably didn’t really even need Barney at all.
At the end of World War II, Athens, Tennessee was about the size of Mayberry. It, too, had once been a great place to live. But the local government went bad, and when governments go bad, they grow like a cancer.
Not everyone in politics is corrupt, but you can be sure that everyone who is corrupt will eventually worm their way into politics because that’s where the real money and power are. And that’s exactly what happened in Athens: The politicians built themselves a massive, crooked machine, and they used local law enforcement to guard their little kingdom.
By 1946, Athens didn’t have just one deputy – they had hundreds. And those deputies weren’t anything like Barney Fife. They were more like Otis the drunk with a bad attitude, a tin badge, and a gun.
The crooked elites of Athens ruled by intimidation, rigging elections, and shaking down businesses for bribes and protection money. They controlled everything, and ran anyone who opposed them out of town.
Things looked pretty bleak for Athens, but a glimmer of hope appeared when the War finally ended. The thousands of returning veterans in and around Athens saw what had become of their town, and they didn’t like it. They knew what enemies of freedom looked like – the fascists they’d defeated overseas were still fresh in their minds – and they knew what they had to do.
What happened next in Athens will absolutely shock anyone who doesn’t know the story. Is the answer those GIs found still relevant to today? That’s up for you to decide once you read chapter 10 of Miracles and Massacres, but keep this in mind: Sometimes those who want to take away all the guns have a pretty simple motive: they want to make sure they’re the only ones who have them.