Rick Bragg is the author of critically acclaimed and best-selling books on the people of the native South, ranging from the woman who drug him on a cotton sack when he was a child to rock and roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis. His writing life has span weekly newspapers in his native Alabama to the worlds largest publishing houses in New York. He has written eight books in all including five The New York Times best sellers. His ninth book will be published next fall by Knopf. He is perhaps best known for his books on the people of the foothills of the Appalachians which have become anthems for working class Americans, Southerns and otherwise.
All Over but the Shoutin’, published in 1997 was the story of his mother’s sacrifices that gave him a chance to pursue a life far from the pulpwood roads and cotton fields of his childhood. He followed that success with Ava’s Man, the story of his grandfather, a bootlegger in the Appalachians in the years of the great depression. Both books were critically acclaimed The New York Times best sellers and both books won numerous awards. He closed the trilogy with critically acclaimed The Prince of Frogtown, the story of his father, an alcoholic Korean War marine.
Also close to home he wrote The Most They Ever Had, the story of a southern cotton mill. He has also written I am A Soldier, Too, the story of prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, which went to number one on the The New York Times best seller list and Jerry Lee Lewis, a biography that won awards and also made the best seller list. He is also the author of Somebody Told Me, a collection of his newspaper stories and My Southern Journey, a collection of his essays and magazine work.
His books have been published in other languages, including Mandarin.
His professional writing career took him from the The Jacksonville News to the (Talladega) The Daily Home to the The Anniston Star to the The Birmingham News to the St. Petersburg Times to The Los Angeles Times to The New York Times, where he worked as a national correspondent based in Atlanta, a Miami bureau chief and senior national correspondent at-large. He also worked for the foreign desk in Haiti and along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. He also went on an African safari with newspaper legend Gene Roberts where a baboon chased him up a tree. He has worked for numerous magazines including The New York Times Sunday magazine, the Smithsonian, GQ, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, the Oxford American, Garden and Gun and several others. He is currently the contributing editor at Southern Living, where his back-of-the-book has an estimated 16 million readers.
He has won more than 70 significant writing awards including the Pulitzer Prize, The American Society of Newspaper Editors Writing Award (twice), James Beard Award, The Timothy White Award for Outstanding Popular Music Biography, The New York Times Notable Book awards, SIBA awards for non-fiction, The Luce Award, The Harper Lee Award and others. He was in the inaugural class of the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame along with Harper Lee and was the Governor’s Council Artist of the Year. He was a finalist for the Grammy, which he had intended to weld to the hood of his pickup truck.
For eleven years he had been the Clarence Cason Professor of Writing in the Journalism Department at The University of Alabama, where he was recently honored with the Last Lecture Award from the University’s graduate students.