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. Max teaches journalism at Emporia State University.


The Chase County Courthouse is a Kansas icon. The jail in its shadow is a disgrace.

By: - 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: - 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: - 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, […]

President Donald Trump on March 2, 2019, at the Conservative Political Action Conference at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md. (Official White House photo by Tia Dufour, via Wikimedia Commons)

Division in Kansas and the country is on display this Flag Day — a birthday present to Donald Trump

By: - June 13, 2021

Monday is Flag Day. At no time in living memory have flags been more important — or interpreted in such wildly different ways — as they are now in the battle for the political soul of the nation. From the Confederate flags at the “Unite the Right Rally” at Charlottesville in 2017 to random displays […]


This senator from Kansas protected the White House — now he’s rolling in his grave

By: - May 30, 2021

When the nation’s capital was being squeezed by secession and revolt early in the Civil War, a senator from the newly minted state of Kansas organized a frontier guard to protect the White House. Sen. James H. Lane was a wild-haired scoundrel who indulged in some bloody cross-border ransacking, but he organized a company, composed […]


Some influential Kansans are tinfoil-hat virus skeptics — that’s a health problem for us all

By: - May 16, 2021

No one could ignore the couple in the grocery store the other day who were roaming the aisles without masks. Not only were they the only people with bare faces, but the man was loudly proclaiming that COVID-19 was a hoax, that those who wore masks were sheep and that the vaccine was a conspiracy […]


On the anniversary of this rambunctious teenager’s death, Kansans should remember her spirit of generosity and equality

By: - May 2, 2021

A hundred years ago this month, 16-year-old Mary White struck her head on a low-hanging limb while riding her horse in Emporia, slid dazed from the saddle, staggered a bit and fell unconscious to the ground. The accident did not surprise anyone who knew her, for Mary was a rambunctious girl who rode horses and […]


Kansans have only ourselves to blame for the embarrassment of these lawmakers

By: - April 18, 2021

Now that the 2021 Kansas Legislative regular session has stumbled to a close, what should we make of the political psychopathy of lawmakers like Aaron Coleman and Gene Suellentrop? These rough beasts arrived at public service from wildly different paths, yet the boorish and reckless behaviors of these cultural opposites have come to define a […]


42 years ago, Easter in Kansas was rocked by a ‘riot’

By: - April 4, 2021

Nestled in a triangle formed by Broadway and Pawnee along the east bank of the Arkansas River, Herman Hill Park in spring is an inviting patch of green in one of Wichita’s oldest residential areas. The park is a landmark for the South Central neighborhood, a place where in the 1900s predominately white workers lived […]


In April 1 satire, Peck — already planning his next apology — is named Kansas cultural ambassador

By: - April 1, 2021

Sen. Virgil Peck has been named the Sunflower State’s cultural ambassador. The Southeast Kansas Republican, who has long been known for his incendiary oratory and old-fashioned bigotry, was given the largely ceremonial title by his GOP colleagues in the Kansas Senate. Peck gained national recognition in 2011 when he deftly proposed a modest if porcine […]


Let’s not burn down the Kansas institutions that made us

By: - March 21, 2021

Higher education in Kansas is under attack. From a plan to temporarily scrap tenure to a proposed budget that would lop $37 million in state funding from public institutions, campuses across the state are reeling. It’s already been a bad year for colleges, which have tried to keep students safe from the coronavirus by temporarily […]


How I marked a year of changes after the plague came to my Kansas town

By: - March 7, 2021

A year and a day ago the pandemic came to town. It was Friday, March 6, and Emporia State University suspended face-to-face classes at the end of the day. Ordinarily this would have been the start of spring break, but instead it was the beginning of a health crisis whose defining characteristic would be collective […]