Cottonwood Roots was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1993. The Press kept in print for about a decade before returning the copyright to me. In 2006, I put it back in circulation via photographic reprint, taking advantage of a special authors’ program. Now, over twenty-five years after it first appeared, I have made use of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing tools to issue a fully revised second edition.
The book is an account of a car journey from my birthplace in Broken Bow, Nebraska, across the Midwest to New York State. As I move eastward, carrying out genealogical research on one of my family lines, I also travel back in time. The trip becomes an occasion for a number of reflections, including sections on courthouse architecture, the financial and social stresses of proving up land claims, the formation of family dynasties, and the craft of genealogy.
“[This book] is like taking a long car ride with an extremely knowledgeable yet good-natured uncle, whose purpose in bringing you along on the trip was not just to enlist you in some ancestral sleuthing, but also to give you a seminar-on-wheels across a vast array of historical and sociological topics.”
— Dayton Duncan, author of Out West: An American Journey and Miles from Nowhere
“At last someone has taken that old and popular hobby of genealogy and turned it into an actual and metaphoric journey: Kem Luther’s Cottonwood Roots moves across the American land toward revelations that illumine all our ancestries.”
–William Least Heat Moon, author of Blue Highways: A Journey into America and PrairyErth
“[Cottonwood Roots] has, as we used to say at the rooming house table, [great] reach. That authority rests upon a double basis: knowledge and the wisdom to see that knowledge in the context of our national history. Add to that double base a style that is lucid, relaxed, and good-humored.”
–D. L. Emblen, editor of The Reader’s Rejoinder newsletter
In the two years after it first appeared, Cottonwood Roots received about a dozen critical notices. Below are some of the reviews. Click on an image to open the associated review in a new window in PDF format.
Use the buttons below to read an excerpt or to purchase the book.