Book Roots Out South's Culture

Beginning with baseball great Hank Aaron and ending with zydeco, "wonderful Cajun music played with an accordion," the newly published "Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" provides a one-of-a-kind reference work, editor Bill Ferris said. The 8-pound, 1,643-page book will detail the South's contributions and history in 24 major subjects--including agriculture, art and literature, black life, law and science. "Roots" author Alex Haley wrote the forward to the encyclopedia, which was edited by Ferris, director of the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and Charles Wilson, professor of history and Southern studies at the university. "I testify that this 'Encyclopedia of Southern Culture' mirrors the very best of what has lately come to be called 'the new South,' " Haley wrote. Ferris said Haley was asked to write the forward because "we felt his work really was symbolic of our quest to understand the roots of all Southerners." The book is to be introduced at a gala today in Washington, at which Lynne V. Cheney, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Mississippi author Willie Morris are scheduled to speak.

--And, in other activity in the South, six highway signs will soon mark what a Georgia professor believes was the 16th-Century route through the state by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The National Parks Service refuses to recognize his proposed route, but Charles Hudson, an anthropology professor at the University of Georgia, has obtained state approval for the markers. "There'll never be complete agreement" on the route, Hudson said. "But I think there is a growing consensus that my route is close to the mark and right on it in some places." De Soto and 600 men, who traveled in the southeastern United States from May, 1539, until 1543, are credited as being the first Europeans to explore the interior of that region.

--Boris N. Yeltsin's memoirs on the inside workings of the Politburo will be published in the United States early next year. A spokesman for Summit Books said it has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to publish the maverick Soviet politician's as yet unfinished book for an undisclosed price. At the author's request, part of Yeltsin's proceeds will be donated to a new fund to fight AIDS in the Soviet Union. He will visit the United States for the first time when the book is published sometime early next year, according to Summit. Yeltsin, a former Moscow party chief, recently gained a seat in the Congress of People's Deputies.

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