Max McCoy

Max McCoy

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.


Kansas prosecutors must be held to a higher standard. To do otherwise courts injustice.

By: - October 23, 2022

It’s time for the Kansas Supreme Court to make it harder for bad prosecutors to escape discipline for misconduct. Prosecuting attorneys have unparalleled discretion in the criminal justice system to bring charges, offer diversions, forge plea agreements, or take a defendant to trial. Their mistakes could send innocent people to prison or jeopardize the prosecution […]

Emporia State University president Ken Hush, says financial realities compelled ESU to realign the budget through a process that includes employee layoffs and changes in academic programs.

Emporia State University is about to suspend tenure. Here’s why you should care.

By: - September 13, 2022

I may be fired for writing this. It would be an improper firing, a violation of my First Amendment rights as a university professor, an infringement of the ability to pursue my discipline and state the truth as I see it in the marketplace of ideas. The given reason might be restructuring, a need for […]

Flowers, plush toys and wooden crosses are placed at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on June 3, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed on May 24 after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside the school. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Black rifles are the favorite of mass shooters. To save lives, these guns have to go.

By: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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 […]