Satan Returns to Oklahoma City
That’s the headline on my story today on the return of the book “And Satan Came Also …” I want to know who wrote it – I love it.
The book itself, as I describe in the review, is sort of a local holy grail that everyone looks for but rarely find – and if they do discover an original copy of this 1955 book, it comes with a steep price.
I can’t say enough about this book, or how important it is to understanding our city’s history. It goes into detail about social, political and cultural history of our city in a way that no other book dares. It names names. I’m not sure any author in this day and age would attempt such an effort with contemporary people, places, events and institutions. For that reason, a lot of mythology has developed through time about why the book is so rare. My friend Larry “Buddy” Johnson cuts through the rumors and tells the real story as part of his own narrative that runs throughout the re-release of the book.
Those in the know about this book will be rushing to buy it. The rest of you who are interested in city history, I urge you to check it out before it’s too late.
For further context, I thought I’d share the original review of the book, written by late Mayor George Shirk, himself a giant in city history who did much to preserve our past:
As with other things, the writing of history may be specialized into any number of fields or limited to a certain interest. One area of historical inquiry oftentimes neglected is any forthright approach to the influence of the smoke-filled room and its politico occupants, whether on a local or national level.
Often these same worthies upon close scrutiny are found to be in close harmony with the seamy side of society and with the area of the community known colloquially as the “tenderloin district.” Human nature being what it is, or for that matter if human nature were different than what it is, any objectively written book of history with such subjects as its principal theme is worthy of close attention and more than passing interest. Particularly if the volume is the careful and studied product of one whose entire life has been devoted to municipal improvement, civic betterment, and local government at the working and practical level. This book meets all such tests.
Judge McRill has packed between the covers of this book many names that, except for the volume, would live on only by word of mouth, tradition and smoking room after dinner story. They all come alive and seem back in business again – Two Johns, The Turf Exchange, The Southern Club, Big Anne, Old Zulu, Noah’s Ark, The Red Onion and all the rest. We of today’s generation are fortunate that it may all be recorded for us in this fashion, so that even though the insatiable march of time has precluded a more intimate introduction, we are not to be deprived of such acquaintanceship altogether. Thanks to Judge McRill for giving our generation a reference book on something that heretofore the only reference has been eavesdropping in the club room when it is filled with old-timers.
- 1955 review by George Shirk