Scott Huler’s new book, A Delicious Country, chronicles his retracing of explorer John Lawson’s steps through the Carolinas, a memoir of exploration, history, and science. Huler is the author of six previous books of nonfiction, and is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Andrew Waters is a speaker on conservation issues and a local expert on battlefield conservation. His new book, The Quaker and the Gamecock, is the story of two wildly divergent leaders, war generals Nathanael Greene and Thomas Sumter during the American Revolution.
In 1700, a young man named John Lawson left London and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, hoping to make a name for himself. For reasons unknown, he soon undertook a two-month journey through the still-mysterious Carolina backcountry. His travels yielded A New Voyage to Carolina in 1709, one of the most significant early American travel narratives, rich with observations about the region's environment and Indigenous people.
Lawson later helped found North Carolina's first two cities, Bath and New Bern; became the colonial surveyor general; contributed specimens to what is now the British Museum; and was killed as the first casualty of the Tuscarora War. Yet despite his great contributions and remarkable history, Lawson is little remembered, even in the Carolinas he documented.
In 2014, Scott Huler made a surprising decision to leave home and family for his own journey by foot and canoe, faithfully retracing Lawson's route through the Carolinas. This is the chronicle of that unlikely voyage, revealing what it's like to rediscover your own home. Combining a traveler's curiosity, a naturalist's keen observation, and a writer's wit, Huler draws our attention to people and places we might pass regularly but never really see. What he finds are surprising parallels between Lawson's time and our own, with the locals and their world poised along a knife-edge of change between a past they can't forget and a future they can’t quite envision.
As the newly appointed commander of the Southern Continental Army in December 1780, Nathanael Greene quickly realized victory would not only require defeating the British Army, but also subduing the region's brutal civil war. "The division among the people is much greater than I imagined, and the Whigs and the Tories persecute each other, with little less than savage fury,” wrote Greene.
Part of Greene’s challenge involved managing South Carolina's determined but unreliable Patriot militia, led by Thomas Sumter, the famed "Gamecock." Though Sumter would go on to a long political career, it was as a defiant partisan that he first earned the respect of his fellow backcountry settlers, a command that would compete with Greene for status and stature in the Revolutionary War's "Southern Campaign."
Despite these challenges, Greene was undaunted. Born to a devout Quaker family, and influenced by the faith's tenets, Greene instinctively understood the war's Southern theater involved complex political, personal, and socioeconomic challenges, not just military ones. Though never a master of the battlefield, Greene's mindful leadership style established his historic legacy.