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Do you know how Oklahoma came to have a panhandle? Did you know that Washington Irving once visited what is now Oklahoma? Can you name the official state rock, or list the courses in the official state meal? The answers to these questions, and others you may not have thought to ask, can be found in this engaging collection of tales by renowned journalist-historian David Dary.

Most of the stories gathered here first appeared as newspaper articles during the state centennial in 2007. For this volume Dary has revised and expanded them—and added new ones. He begins with an overview of Oklahoma’s rich and varied history and geography, describing the origins of its trails, rails, and waterways and recounting the many tales of buried treasure that are part of Oklahoma lore.

But the heart of any state is its people, and Dary introduces us to Oklahomans ranging from Indian leaders Quanah Parker and Satanta, to lawmen Bass Reeves and Bill Tilghman, to twentieth-century performing artists Woody Guthrie, Will Rogers, and Gene Autry. Dary also writes about forts and stagecoaches, cattle ranching and oil, outlaws and lawmen, inventors and politicians, and the names and pronunciation of Oklahoma towns. And he salutes such intellectual and artistic heroes as distinguished teacher and writer Angie Debo and artist and educator Oscar Jacobson, one of the first to focus world attention on Indian art.

Reading this book is like listening to a knowledgeable old-timer regale his audience with historical anecdotes, “so it was said” tall tales, and musings on what it all means. Whether you’re a native of the Sooner State or a newcomer, you are sure to learn much from these accounts of the people, places, history, and folklore of Oklahoma.

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