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 20 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.
Black rifles are the favorite of mass shooters. To save lives, these guns have to go.
By: Max McCoy - June 5, 2022
We must ban the black rifles. It’s the only way to stop the epidemic of mass killings in America, where the favored weapon of the gunmen (and they are nearly all men) is the AR-15 and its variants, assault weapons collectively known as “black rifles.” Yet the National Rifle Association and a chorus of conservatives […]
On this Kansas community’s Main Street, the moral risk of easy money
By: Max McCoy - April 24, 2022
HESSTON — Under a wind-whipped April sky, a sign painter named Ray Katzer touches up the new letters on the facade above 105 N. Main St. with strokes as deft as a blue-collar Da Vinci. He’s standing on a platform at the end of a boom lift, elevated high above street level, and he works […]
As we transition from pestilence to war’s shadow, we must count the dead and comfort the living
By: Max McCoy - March 6, 2022
Two years ago today I walked out of my office at Emporia State University into a new pandemic reality. It was the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. Although I could see dim shapes on the horizon moving toward us — I had been monitoring news reports about the spread of […]
Europe is again at war. The example Ike set is more important than ever.
By: Max McCoy - February 27, 2022
There’s a lot of talk these days about leadership, but damned little of the stuff to be found. Never have we needed effective leadership more than now, as we watch Russian tanks rumble into Ukraine, in the biggest military offensive since World War II. The number of troops, estimated at up to 190,000, is about […]
Lawmakers are pushing to muzzle teachers. Kansans who love unvarnished fact must push back.
By: Max McCoy - February 20, 2022
Teachers are the enemy. That’s the message a pair of bills debated in back-to-back hearings Wednesday in the Kansas Legislature sends. The proposed laws, which came out of GOP-controlled education committees, would stifle the ability of K-12 teachers to teach historical fact and diverse points of view, eliminate the affirmative defense for educators, and broaden […]
Kansas is digging a $1 billion mystery hole. What could go wrong?
By: Max McCoy - February 13, 2022
It’s the biggest financial incentive package in state history. Yet we don’t know the name of the firm lawmakers have decided to woo with this unprecedented and risky deal, which would provide the mystery company at least $1 billion in tax breaks, payroll subsidy, state-funded employee training and other incentives. The sheer size of the […]
How would the ‘Kansas goat doctor’ have behaved in office? The answer is Mark Steffen.
By: Max McCoy - February 6, 2022
Mark Steffen could give old Doc Brinkley a run for his money. John R. Brinkley was a quack of the first order. The “Kansas goat doctor” made a fortune a century ago by promising old men he could restore their sexual vigor by grafting bits of goat testicles onto their tender parts. It was nonsense, […]
Disgusted by the chaos at local school board meetings? Then vote in local elections.
By: Max McCoy - January 30, 2022
The Lower Fox Creek School at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a stout building of native limestone. Completed in 1882, on land given by local rancher Stephen F. Jones, it was the heart of School District 14, meant to advance the common good by providing an education for area children. It taught all grades, […]
For 150 years, ‘Home’ has been wherever you sing this song
By: Max McCoy - January 23, 2022
Brewster Higley is an enigma. When he came to Kansas in 1871, he was already pushing 50, so frontier life must have been a special challenge. Higley was a physician, what we would today call an ear, nose and throat specialist. But in rural and remote Smith County, up near the geographic center of the […]
Week 98: A window facing north
By: Max McCoy - January 16, 2022
You could feel the dread rolling over us like a cloud. There was a somber quality to all of the past week that imbued every sight and sound with a peculiar gravity, a murmuring at the edge of our consciousness that whispered despair. The weather was mild and the sunsets were pastel and I should […]
Ten books every Kansan should read. Sorry, Dorothy.
By: Max McCoy - January 9, 2022
There must be 6,000 books in our house on Constitution Street, and they overflow from shelves as if they were multiplying on their own. They represent the cultural life of a pair of individuals who separately immersed themselves from an early age in literature and, eventually, came together as a couple in an explosion of […]
My Kansas hometown was tagged with swastikas. We shouldn’t tolerate even casual displays of hate.
By: Max McCoy - January 2, 2022
Maybe it was because I’d just picked up Kim from Union Station in Kansas City, and had time to ponder the grim symbolism of a genuine World War II-era German freight car temporarily installed outside. The car is part of the touring exhibit, “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.” Perhaps it was the current […]