With a biting mix of wonder and pride, William Ecenbarger observes that in the quirky state of Pennsylvania, the town of Mauch Chunk changed its name to Jim Thorpe—even though the famous American Indian athlete never set foot in it.
A former journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine and author of the best seller Kids for Cash, Ecenbarger presents Pennsylvania Stories— Well Told, a compilation of a dozen of his fascinating articles showcasing the Keystone State . He provides a history of the pencil and considers why the first day of Pennsylvania’s deer hunting season—arguably the world’s largest participatory sporting event—is an unofficial state holiday, closing schools and state offices. Ecenbarger also profiles George “Boom Boom” Zambelli, the internationally renowned pyrotechnic king, and goes driving with Pennsylvania native John Updike in rural Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Other captivating tales that unfold in Pennsylvania Stories— Well Told range from the inspiring account of Governor Bob Casey’s double organ transplant, to darker essays on the electric chair and a former Ku Klux Klansman, to a mile-by-mile appreciation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
These weird and wonderful stories, in which Ecenbarger highlights just what makes Pennsylvania both eccentric and great, provide a delightfully intriguing read for natives and curious outsiders alike.
" If Pennsylvania had a poet laureate, it would be Bill Ecenbarger. Throughout a long career as one of the most distinguished journalists in the state, he has captured the Commonwealth's unique spirit—in all its glory and all its eccentricity. Pennsylvania Stories—Well Told pulls together the best of his best stories, each impeccably researched and beautifully written. Learn about the literary great John Updike, the role of the Ku Klux Klan, a popular governor's very public fight for life, the notorious state mental hospital known as Byberry. These tales and others create a rich mosaic of Pennsylvania culture and history. I heartily recommend this book."
—Former Governor Richard L. Thornburgh
"Bill Ecenbarger—to regular Inquirer readers, one need say no more. Put that name on a story, and they know that what awaits them is a small masterpiece of writing, wisdom, and wit. To editors at the Philadelphia Inquirer , Bill Ecenbarger is a godsend—a writer who covers an inordinately wide range of topics and turns in colorful, provocative stories that you want to read out loud to anyone who will listen."
—Fred Mann, editor, Philadelphia Inquirer
" Reading the stories is like listening to your favorite quirky friend. The language rolls like a perfectly poured beer into a glass, gleaming gold and with just the right amount of froth."
"(This) collection of a dozen articles... sparkle(s) with entertaining and informative prose, covering subject material from the making of pencils in a Pennsylvania factory to the making of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, from the pervasive culture of deer hunting to the lingering stain of the Ku Klux Klan....This book is likely to elicit a smile, a chuckle, a nod or a shake of the head in readers who appreciate the always interesting and sometimes odd byways of life in Pennsylvania."