Max McCoy is an award-winning author and journalist. A native Kansan, he started his career at the Pittsburg Morning Sun and was soon writing for national magazines. His investigative stories on unsolved murders, serial killers and hate groups earned him first-place awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors and other organizations. McCoy has also written more than twenty books, the most recent of which is "Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River," named a Kansas Notable Book by the state library. "Elevations" also won the National Outdoor Book Award, in the history/biography category. Max teaches journalism at Emporia State University.
From alcohol to pain-relieving pot, Prohibition runs deep in Kansas
By: Max McCoy - September 19, 2021
Amy Reid is serious about medical marijuana. She’s a Wichita registered nurse and president of the Kansas Cannabis Coalition. She describes herself as a cannabis navigator for her patients, and she is all business when it comes to advocating for medical weed. I couldn’t help but chuckle when she told me the name of a […]
It’s September 12. What now?
By: Max McCoy - September 12, 2021
It’s been 20 years and a day since 9/11 changed us. The last troops have only days ago been airlifted from Afghan soil, ending America’s longest war, a conflict that was waged not against an enemy but a tactic. The Global War on Terror, of which Afghanistan and Iraq were the major theaters of operation, […]
Who got rich from February’s cold wave? We may never know.
By: Max McCoy - September 5, 2021
When the historic cold came stealing around Valentine’s Day, there were two things I knew for certain. The first was that the kitchen pipes in our 120-year-old house in central Emporia were likely to freeze. The second was that consumers would be footing the bill for the most predictable economic disaster ever. It was the […]
Rage against the vaccine? Oh, the humanity.
By: Max McCoy - August 29, 2021
Rage is a useful emotion if you’re the greatest of ancient Greek warriors — Sing, O Goddess, of the rage of Achilles! — but it has its limitations for those of us not descended from kings and sea nymphs. While justifiable outrage has been instrumental in moving the arrow of history ever closer to justice, […]
On the frontier, trains brought progress. They still do.
By: Max McCoy - August 22, 2021
When the first passenger train to Wichita arrived the night of Thursday, May 16, 1872, it seemed the entire town had waited up to meet it. Rolling up to the wooden depot on Douglas, the steam train and its 44 occupants were met by a cowboy brass band. Jubilation is not a strong enough word […]
The hidden history of Kansas is the story of enslaved people. Let’s say their names.
By: Max McCoy - August 15, 2021
Shawnee Indian Mission is a bit of the 1850s frontier in the midst of one of the richest suburban neighborhoods in the country. Just a block away is the buzz of traffic on Shawnee Mission Parkway, and the homes in the area cost more than most of us can afford. But for $5, Wednesday through […]
Kansas redistricting should be fair. What’s been dumped on us is not.
By: Max McCoy - August 8, 2021
I’ve never liked Fridays. Chalk it up to superstition, but there’s something about a Friday that gives me the creeps. It makes me think twice about scheduling anything important on a Friday. Some of it goes back to my reporting days, because sources have a way of tossing bombshells into the inbox just before the […]
Friday is the 76th anniversary of Hiroshima. Doomsday is closer than ever.
By: Max McCoy - August 1, 2021
Let me tell you a story of witness and heartbreak. Friday is the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and that’s where our story is forever frozen in time. Unlike memories, which are malleable, fade with age, and eventually die with us, photographs bear perpetual witness. That’s why photo captions, ideally, should be […]
Vaccination rates are flat while COVID cases rise. Let’s stop compromising with crazy.
By: Max McCoy - July 25, 2021
If you’re old enough to have a small scar on your upper arm from receiving a smallpox vaccination as a child, congratulations — you’re part of a global, multi-generational effort that, for the first time in human history, eradicated a deadly disease. Smallpox, which had been around for at least three thousand years, probably killed […]
The Chase County Courthouse is a Kansas icon. The jail in its shadow is a disgrace.
By: Max McCoy - July 18, 2021
If you’ve ever strolled downtown in Cottonwood Falls, you’ll remember the charming courthouse perched on the square at the south end of the brick street. Charming is not a word I use often, but there’s no doubt about it: The Chase County Courthouse is downright charming. With its local limestone walls, red mansard roof and […]
We must change our relationship to water, or lose it forever
By: Max McCoy - July 11, 2021
Out past the 100th meridian things get dry damned quick. The meridian traditionally marks the line where the west begins and agriculture is difficult without irrigation. You can find it easily on a map of Kansas. Just look for Dodge City, in the lower western third of the state. The meridian runs right through town. […]
The road to the Jan. 6 insurrection goes back to Kansas — let’s reverse its course
By: Max McCoy - June 27, 2021
When Timothy McVeigh made the bomb that would take down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, he did it in plain sight, at a state park in Kansas. McVeigh and at least one co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, mixed 4,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate — a common fertilizer — with diesel fuel, […]